Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island – kind of review with spoilers

I must warn you immediately the reason I wanted to write this review was REALLY so I had legitimate reason to rave about Mark Ruffalo. Gee whizz and golly gosh, he was just cool as fudge in Shutter Island. The clothes, the hair, the accent – and, just for fans of Extras – ‘the catchphrase, brilliant’.

In fact this is not really much of a review. Skim read to the last few paragraphs and squint your eyes a bit. You might get some sense out of it (though, probably not).

I screamed about two minutes into the film – during the opener where Leonardo DiCaprio is suffering the indignity of sea sickness, Mark Ruffalo is just cool as a cucumber!

Maybe this feeling of awe was slightly increased by the fact that only a week before I’d also watched Dark Waters – the compelling true story of a law firm taking on a huge environmental case. Now Mark Ruffalo was great in it. He was great and his character was great buuuut he didn’t look that cool.

So how refreshing was this?!

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Actually it’s been a bit of a Mark Ruffalo lovefest recently as we also watched 13 Going on 30 and omg how adorable is that film. Loved it! BEST ENDING EVER!

So anyway, Shutter Island is almost two and a half hours long but it doesn’t feel that bad. It’s one of those actually pretty good long(ish) films where you’re involved and absorbed and don’t think about the time or needing a wee too much. Nowhere near as good as the super (and slightly ridiculously long) ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy though – which I also re-watched recently and now can’t stop thinking about. I really want to live in Middle Earth and be best pals with Gandalf! Who am I kidding, I want to BE Gandalf!

Anyway. Back to Shutter Island.

The story follows two US Marshalls played by DiCaprio and Ruffalo. Yep MARK RUFFALO. They go to the dreary, depressing and utterly awful Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient from the asylum – oh yes, this island has an ASYLUM – who has seemingly disappeared into thin air like a puff of mysterious smoke.

It seems to be constantly raining on the island. And not just a bit of drizzle – real, stormy ‘I think we’re gonna need Dennis Quaid’ type of weather. The asylum feels cold and uncomfortable. Well, aside from the quarters where Ben Kingsley, Max Von Sydow and other posh doctors live. They dine well and smoke cigars and have warm fires and cognac.

Not that I’m slagging them off per se, I mean they live in the godforsaken place out of a sense of duty to the patients presumably, so a bit of comfort is necessary. And it would be for me too. But I was literally horrified when I saw the chilly dormitory the two detectives were expected to stay in.

(Yes I did also watch The Day After Tomorrow recently).

The thing that stands out about Shutter Island aside from the always great performances (everyone in it is a high class actor and I particularly liked John Carroll Lynch) is the constant ‘horror film’ vibes. I mean it’s Scorsese and it’s got DiCaprio in it and you’d – admittedly rather ignorantly – expect it to be about gangsters or politicians or something. But it’s more like a thriller crossed with psychological horror. Rather creepy, surreal dream sequences (always a nightmare inducer) and black skies over a foreboding island – the whole place is pretty terrifying. You know when you just wouldn’t want to be there?

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Though I don’t think it’s a Scorsese classic if I’m honest. I mean it’s very entertaining and has a great cast. I liked how Martin Scorsese made a proper scary movie and of course particularly enjoyed the creepy elements. But it’s far more forgettable than most of his big name movies and I don’t think it’s a ‘classic classic’.

Also, it was the second time I’d watched it. And though I didn’t remember how the entire story unfolded step by step, I DID certainly remember the big twist at the end and it changes straight up EVERYTHING when you’re watching it.

Slight Spoiler Alert…

I wish they really had been US Marshalls investigating a weird disappearance. I don’t like the truth as much. The truth is tragic, the ending a great deal sadder and it means they’re not cool US Marshalls. Admittedly it’s a great shocker the first time you watch it and executed well, but to me it massively affected the film’s re-watch-ability because the whole time you know a lot of the character building and set-up is…..well, it’s nonsense really.

Let’s all take solace in a cool Mark Ruffalo headshake.

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About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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19 Responses to Shutter Island (2010)

  1. Some might say Scorsese made a mess of this film. But I actually really like it.

    • emmakwall says:

      I have nothing to compare it too really so not sure if he made a mess or not. I certainly liked it, but just unsure of it’s re-watch-ability 🙂

  2. dbmoviesblog says:

    A wonderful post with great points! I love Shutter Island and I remember how amazed I was watching it in cinema without knowing the spoilers. It was a great experience for me. I am not sure if you’d be interested but recently I read a non-fiction book “Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America’s Premier Mental Hospital” that inspired Shutter Island’s original author Dennis Lehane and his book of the same name is also an exhilarating read.

    • emmakwall says:

      Wow that sounds a great book! Thank you for alerting my attention to it. Thanks so much for your comment 🙂 it was definitely a film that was best on the first watch wasn’t it. I felt it was harder to invest in the plot knowing it was all nonsense anyway. But of course I still enjoyed it! I’ll let you know what I think of the book, thanks 🙂

  3. Eric Binford says:

    As I just told another fellow blogger, I figured out the twist right away (I guess I’ve seen too many movies with the same twist) so I didn’t enjoy it much. I do want to re-watch it.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      What other films have you watched that have the same twist? 🙂 I am just curious.

      • Eric Binford says:

        Well, Shutter Island is very, very similar to The Ninth Configuration (1980). Because of Configuration I immediately became suspicious. Shutter also shares many similarities with Identity (2003), and to a lesser extent, the TV movie Rehearsal for Murder (1982) and Open Your Eyes (1997) (Spanish thriller remade as Vanilla Sky).

        • dbmoviesblog says:

          Interesting! I have not seen The Ninth Configuration, but reading the synopsis, the similarities are very clear, so I am now not surprised you knew the spoiler to Shutter Island. I also personally think that Shutter Island’s twist is quite different from either Identity or Open Your Eyes, so yes, to a much “lesser extent”. Now that I think about it, I think there is something of Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder there too. Both have this ex-military man (either the one who went through the Vietnam War horror or the WWII horror), going insane, thinking about conspiracy theories and unable to distinguish his real life from fantasy/hallucination/make-believe – even when actually living it.

  4. I’ve watched this three times over the years and it DOES have re-watch value – the ending is a bit more ambiguous than you originally think, in terms of whose story is actually true. The first time I watched it it seemed pretty clear that Di Caprio’s character was insane / not cured, but give it a watch in a year and you’ll probably see a few things you originally missed. -Tony-

    • emmakwall says:

      Sorry but I disagree, the ending wasn’t ambiguous to me at all and I was re-watching it 🙂 but that’s really cool you see it differently! Thank you!

      • Ha, no worries, maybe ambiguous was the wrong word I used. I’ll need to rewatch it again now to see what I saw in my previous viewing!

        • emmakwall says:

          Amphibious?! No that’s definitely wrong 🙂 ha ha ha. No don’t be silly, you’re probably right, I don’t know the film as well as you do, I just didn’t see any other ending that’s all. But that doesn’t mean I’m right (far from it usually ha ha) 🙂

  5. johnrieber says:

    You hit some great points here – and your review is as entertaining as the film! You are right that for the story it’s a bit long, and certainly one of Scorsese’s “fun to watch but disposable” films ala “Cape Fear” for me…still, great acting, beautiful direction – a bit like “The Departed”: everyone showed up, told a good story and left. As for Ruffalo, your review is hilarious: my wife loves him as well, and while “13 Going On 30” is great, she REALLY loves him in “The Kids Are Alright!”

  6. filmmiasma says:

    Dear Clam – great post! Isn’t that right? No rewatchability here sadly. But it is what it is (or was the first time). Happy Friday!

  7. I love this movie primarily because of it’s haunting visuals and atmosphere, the acting was also rather wonderful, especially, for me, the small turn by Jackie Earle Haley. Definitely not Scorsese’s best movie but still rather fantastic nevertheless. 🙂

  8. This is my favourite of DiCaprio.. and hate to say it but felt Ruffalo was miscast and really didn’t like him in this. So it was interesting to read your take on him and this movie. Maybe it’s just as I felt that DiCaprio was so vulnerable.. I would spoiler alert love a sequel to see how this investigation was all set up.. and really want to know the reason for the plaster on DiCaprios head.. Anyway loved to read your views on the movie

  9. beetleypete says:

    I thought it was a case of a potentially great cast meeting a great director, and coming up with an ‘average’ film. I know people who love this film, but I’m not one of them. 🙂
    As ever, Pete. XXX

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