All Is Not Well on Shutter Island

What Scorsese does is to guide DiCaprio’s performance well enough that this young actor can pull off a wide range of reactions, but sadly, veteran actor Max von Sydow is under-utilized.

Ed Sum

Shutter Island Movie PosterOn Shutter Island, there is no escape—only insanity and one man’s hopeless attempt at discovering the truth. But US Marshal Teddi Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) doesn’t realize what he’s getting himself into. With his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo), what they uncover is far more sinister, and even more cerebral.

This film is a drama about Daniels’ descent to madness and is an effective adaptation of the bestseller by Dennis Lehane. Audiences are taken into huge mind-fuck of what is real and what is imagined, turning out to be nothing like what the movie trailers suggest it to be. This film is more of a psychological tension builder than a ghost story.

Director Martin Scorsese certainly knows the source well and masterfully choreographs the movie both musically and cinematically. The visuals are symbolic of one man’s journey to explore the very depths of his own soul, but the feeling one gets from this film is not quite terrifying — it’s actually more shocking and one has to wonder what lengths anyone will take in order to keep secrets hidden.

What Scorsese does is to guide DiCaprio’s performance well enough that this young actor can pull off a wide range of reactions, but sadly, veteran actor Max von Sydow is under-utilized. He’s a wonderful performer that deserves more screen time on Shutter Island. But instead, he’s a shadowy figure that not many people know about, or much less care.

At least Ben Kingsley shines with a mix of humor and seriousness. He’s like the ever mysterious Number Two from the British cult classic The Prisoner. Now try interpreting both products in one night—like Teddi, one would get a headache and wonder what’s hiding under the bed.