Friday, 13 May 2011

Shutter Island

Dennis Lehane must have been delighted with the film version of his novel Mystic River and, although I haven't read the original book, I imagine he will have been equally gratified by the adaptation of Shutter Island directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The film benefits from a combination of an excellent plot, strong characterisation and atmospheric visuals. We are introduced to Leonardo DiCaprio as the detective setting out by boat, together with his partner, to a small but forbidding island which is home to a hospital for the criminally insane. They are investigating the disappearance – apparently from a locked room! – of a woman who murdered her three children.

The chief psychiatrist is played by Ben Kingsley and he seems to be a particularly menacing character, as do other doctors and the tough warden who is in charge of security. What exactly is the secret of Shutter Island? Is it possible that dirty work is going on, and that the psychiatrists are seeking to conduct mind control experiments on their patients? It is the sort of place that is tailor-made for conspiracy theories.

The story has an excellent twist ending, one of the best since The Usual Suspects. Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley both give impressive performances and there are plenty of striking images and memorable scenes. The film left me wanting to read the book, which speaks for itself. Recommended viewing.


Maxine Clarke said...

Hmmm, twist or cheat ending? Actually, the ending is much more clearly a cheat in the book than it is in the film, where the visual aspect, together with the lack of the apparently factual information provided that simply turned out to be lies, with no explanation, made me want to hurl the book across the room. I may even have done that! Some of his other books have similarly "unfair on the reader" endings but possbibly these work better on screen, too.

Alistair Macfarlane said...

Being a music guy, I hated the music. I loved the story and the look and feel, but.......
'Edward Scissorhands', for instance, may not be the best movie ever made, but the music is perfect. It fits.
Shutter Island was just trying too hard to be 'moody'.
oh well.... back to the new Denise Mina.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Maxine, and thanks. I'm sorry to see you're not on the list of attendees for Crimefest and I hope our paths cross again before too long.

Martin Edwards said...

Alistair, I tend to think that the music in crime films and TV that I've seen in recent years is not as memorable as that of the past. Not sure why things have changed.