Monday 12 July 2010

Shutter Island (2010) - Review

***Warning – this review contains spoilers***

shutter I don’t normally like to put spoilers in my reviews, but I came to the decision that this movie would be all but impossible to review without giving away some of what happens. I have tried to keep them to a minimum, and won’t give away the complete ending.  First of all, let me just say that Shutter Island was a completely different film to what I thought it was going to be, or even what I feel the trailer makes it out to be.  I was expecting a more of a horror, but it is really a psychological thriller.

Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a US marshal.  He has a dark past. He was an army officer who rescued Jews from concentration camps, and his wife died in a fire two years earlier.  He is haunted by his past and the feeling that he should have saved more people. He has been called to Shutter Island, with his brand new partner, because a patient has escaped from a mental institute for the criminally insane which is on the island (think Alcatraz).  When he gets there he is told that the patient escaped from a locked room, and that she made it past a room full of orderly’s without being seen. It is as though she simply vanished from the room.  While searching the room Teddy finds a piece of paper where the missing patient has written that there are 67 prisoners in the institute, though according to the records there are only actually 66. We then find out that Teddy took the case to be on the island, because he believes the man who set the fire that killed his wife is patient 67.

Here things start to get a bit strange.  Teddy is suffering from headaches and starts having terrible dreams and even hallucinations of his dead wife and a dead girl from the concentration camps. We are made to believe that the government are actually testing psychotropic drugs on the patients and lobotomising them.  They intend for Teddy to become another patient and the government have invented the missing patient simply to get him onto the island.

The patient is then miraculously found, despite a terrible storm that is raging around the island. 

The rest of the movie is basically about Teddy’s increasing paranoia, trying to find the man who killed his wife, and then trying to get off of the island.

I seem to be watching a lot of movies recently where you don’t know if the whole thing is simply in the head of the protagonist, or if it is actually happening.  I can’t help feeling a little disappointed with this movie. While the acting was great and the look and feel of the movie was like a fifties gangster film (Martin Scorsese directs), I felt the twist had been done before and it simply wasn’t original.  When it’s ‘all the the head of the main character’ I feel a bit cheated. In some ways it is no better than watching a movie only for them to wake up at the end and announce ‘'it was all just a bad dream’ .  The ending was also pretty depressing, and while I wasn’t expecting a feel good film,it was about as miserable as it is possible to get.

Saying all of that, in essence it was an entertaining film. Leonardo DiCaprio is a fantastic actor and has long ago left behind his ‘pretty-boy’ days of Titanic.  I think this was another situation of me expecting too much, and when you have been looking forward to something that could have been so much better, it’s always disappointing. If they had simply kept to the storyline of missing patients and drug testing, instead of trying to twist it all round, I think it would have made for a better movie.

Trying to be too clever, but still a watchable film.  6.5/10


  1. I couldn't get into "Shutter Island" at all. It all seemed very "stagey" to me and didn't flow properly. Maybe I just don't like things set in the 40s or 50s because they nearly always turn out to be full of anachronisms. But, yeah, the "twist" was most disappointing.

  2. Hey Dr Blood, I know what you mean about the 50's look. It did take me a minute to adjust to it, but then I kind of forgot about it. And thanks for being our 40th follower!