DVD: Shutter Island

Photo: Film Junk

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams and Emily Mortimer. Directed by Martin Scorsese. 138 Minutes. 14A

The gossip blogs were all
abuzz last year when they heard Martin Scorsese's new Leo DiCaprio opus was being pushed from the pre-awards buzz season to the non-romantic comedy movie hell that is February. They figured that it meant the mysterious mystery flick was a certified stinker, a sure-fire failure that could never win over critics or homegrown cinephiles. Boy, were they wrong.

Okay, so
Shutter Island is definitely not Oscar-worthy (except maybe for set design). But it's the perfect thinking popcorn-fan's movie: thrilling, overdramatic, heavily metaphorical and well, fun. To put it in summer escapism terms, it's a guilty pleasure paperback with big name Hollywood stars (it's no surprise it's adapted from a popular piece of modern pulp fiction).

From the minute the movie opens on a storm-bound boat, surrounded by the bleak, cloudless mid-morning sky, you get the feeling that this movie is going to be mighty eerie. And it is. It really is.

Shutter Island tells the story of two U.S. Marshalls, Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), both of which have been sent to investigate a high-security prison for the criminally insane and search for a missing child murderer named Rachel Solando. There, they question many of Rachel's former session-mates from the facility's first two wards and look over her mysteriously un-tampered with bedroom. The one area they don't venture to, however, is Ward C, where they keep the incurable crazies. Well, until the massive storm wreaks havoc on the island and it's old school housing facilities.

Amidst all the questioning and chain smoking (hey, it's supposed to be 1954), Teddy begins to have wild flashbacks to his days in WWII, where he watched many men, women and children die slow, painful deaths in the snow. He also has recurring dreams about his wife (Michelle Williams), who died in a fire a few years back. What do these mean, you ask? Well, I would tell you, but then I'd have to kill all the conspiracy theories you'll start building while watching Teddy figure his, and Rachel's, mind out. And to be honest, the best part of
Shutter Island is trying to put all the wildly misshaped pieces together yourself.

What I can tell you is DiCaprio kills it again in this movie. He channels two of his most infamous Scorsese characters with Teddy: end-of-the-road Howard Hughes (
The Aviator) and beginning-of-the-chase Billy Costigan (The Departed). One minute he's Mr. Cool, Calm and Collected Good Cop. The next, he's a hallucinating, anxious wreck, ready to blow. Needless to say, it's riveting to watch. Why doesn't this boy (sorry, man) have an Oscar already?

Sadly, the supporting players are not as strong, bringing in pretty standard performances (Ben Kingsley, especially). For example, Jackie Earle Haley has an awesomely creepy cameo as one of Shutter Island's permanent residents. But that's not too surprising, looking back on his overly pedaphile-centric catalog (Eww. Eww. Eww.)

If you're looking for a post-beach read this summer, give your Emily Giffin novels a break and head over to
Shutter Island for the afternoon. Just don't forget to bring a blanket and some extra buttery popcorn. B

Extras: Behind the Shutters featurette, Into the Lighthouse featurette, assorted trailers

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