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Reviewin’ For You: SHUTTER ISLAND

This would have been perfect for October...

Shutter Island is a fast-paced and intelligent thriller with solid directing from the legendary Martin Scorsese and an all-star cast that manages to improve upon Dennis Lehane‘s entertaining novel and will keep audiences talking long after the credits. Set in 1954, the story follows U.S. marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) as they investigate the disappearance of a female “patient” named Rachel Solando from the mysterious prison for the criminally insane on “Shutter Island.” However, the delusional and violent Solando isn’t the only danger the two U.S. marshals face as they begin to unravel the island’s dark secrets while a powerful storm approaches, rendering escape or help impossible.

Join me after the break for the full review.

Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) attempts to assist the two lawmen, but it becomes apparent that there is more to Asheclife Hospital than meets the eye as the patients and aids seem to be scared to open up. With Solando having mysteriously vanished and a search coming up empty handed, the marshals attempt to dig deeper into the rumors of vicious experiments and questionable methodology, but as they continue their investigation they soon find there may be no turning back.

With a 138 runtime, Shutter Island throws a number of curveballs but hits a grandslam in the final act that will leave viewers hungry for a second viewing. High marks must be given to the cinematography that captures the absolute creepiness of the island while establishing the moody atmosphere throughout the story. One minor gripe deals with the irritatingly unnecessary use of CGI to fill in the background shots that breaks the carefully crafted ’50s setting.

Having read Lehane’s excellent novel, it is apparent that screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis enjoyed the source material, replicating key scenes and lines while adding in a believable backstory for Daniels and making judicious cuts here and there with a few pitfalls. She is well-served to follow the careful path that Lehane crafts, as he has a history of critically successful adaptations, including Mystic River and the outstanding Gone Baby Gone, while she has a less than sterling reputation, after writing Alexander and screenplay credits for Night Watch and Pathfinder. Perhaps this will be the lucky break that establishes Kalogridis, as she is writing the screenplay for James Cameron’s upcoming Battle Angel.

Rated R for “disturbing violent content, language and some nudity,” the film never goes to the point of grotesque or unnecessary while managing to throw a few scares and remain intelligent and affecting. The acting, however, is where the film really shines. While key turns are filled by DiCaprio, Ruffalo, and Kingsley, important roles are populated by familiar faces like Elias Koteas, Michelle Williams, Ted Levine, Jackie Earle Hayley, Patricia Clarkson, and John Carroll Lynch, which combines to be a pleasure to watch on screen.

Let the twists and turns envelope you and avoid the spoiler-ridden reviews that are likely to come out in the next few days in advance of the Feb. 19th release. This is a smart and thought provoking film filled with a masterful cast and crew that combines to give us an one the best February releases in quite some time. Paramount did Shutter Island quite an injustice by moving the film from its original October release to mid-February, but don’t let that deter you from seeing this great film.

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February 17, 2010 - Posted by | Reviewin' For You |

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