I saw Shutter Island yesterday and quite impressed. It is definitely a great movie, but an underwhelming Scorsese picture. That being said, I will take a sub-par Scorcese movie over any other any day. For me, the ending was kind of predictable. That’s not a criticism however. Unlike a lot of other movies which depends so much on the revelation at the end, Shutter Island benefits from its predictable. It’s not so much about the actual finale, but the cause – and the effect is truly gut-wrenching.
Much has been said lately about DiCaprio and Scorsese’s relationship. These two totally need to make more movies together. This might be the finest performance that DiCaprio has given Scorsese – and he’s given two other fantastic ones (Gangs of New York and The Departed). In Shutter Island, DiCaprio’s Tenny Daniels is pushed to the brink but he also pushes back at the doctors with such intensity that the institutions top doctor insists that it just, “a defense mechanism”.
Much of the plot of the movie revolves around flashbacks when Teddy served in World War II. As a liberator of a concentration camp, the horror he saw constantly haunts him. But it’s also the present that haunts him as he begins to find out the the patients on the island are being experimented on just as the Nazis did in World War II.
Shutter Island could only have taken place in early 50’s America. Teddy’s own paranoia about what is really taking place on the island, perfectly suits the fear of Communism that was taking over the US at the time. The experiments that the doctors are pulling on the patients is very much akin to the Eugenics experiments that the Nazis tried. (Check out Edwin Black’s War Against The Weak for further information on this subject. I highly recommend it.)
Ultimately, Shutter Island fails as a Scorsese classic, because Teddy is too caught up in his quest to figure out what is taking place on the island to be relatable and memorable. I never found myself having sympathy for him like I did with Henry Hill, Travis Bickle, or Bill the Butcher. However, the movie is still terrifying in ways that only Scorsese could pull off.