Shutter Island is a psychological thriller, directed by Martin Scorsese. The movie is based on a novel written by Dennis Lehane. The movie was released in January 2010, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley, among others.
The year is 1954, and US Marshal Edward Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) arrives Shutter Island with his new partner, Chuck Aule. On the island, which is located in Boston harbour, there is a hospital for the criminally insane, called Ashecliffe Hospital. Edward, also called Teddy, and Chuck are investigating the disappearance of a patient named Rachel Solando, who seems to have disappeared from a locked room. She was instutionalized after drowning her three children.
Teddy starts having strange dreams, and in the first dream he sees his wife Dolores Chanal, who was killed in a fire two years ago. She says Rachel is still on the island, and so is Andrew Laeddis, the man responsible for her death, and it is because of him Teddy wanted to investigate this case. Teddy and Chuck interviews the people in Rachel’s group therapy sessions, and Teddy ask all of them if they know who Andrew Laeddis is. Everybody answers the same thing; no, never heard of him. Teddy finds this quite suspicious, and he believes that Laeddis is located in Ward C, where he is not allowed to investigate.
Teddy tells his partner about a guy he had met once, George Noyce, who was a former patient on the island. He told Teddy that they are conducting experiments on the human mind. Teddy wants to find evidence that can prove this.
Teddy believes there is a patient who is being kept secret, because of a note Rachel had written, who said “Who is 67th?”, and there were only 66 patients on the institution. He also believes this is Laeddis, but when he points this out, Dr. John Cawley, the head-psychiatrist tell him that Rachel is found, but even after speaking to her, they have no idea where she has been, or how she got out of her room.
The next morning, the electrical system was destroyed, due to the storm that night. In the chaos, Teddy and Chuck decide to take a look at Ward C, in hope to find Laeddis. Instead, Teddy finds George Noyce, who says that everything happening on the island, and the investigation, is just a game, constructed for him.
Teddy and Chuck later go to the cliffs, intending to investigate the light house, but Teddy insists that he goes alone. He finds out that the water is too high, so the path who leads to the light house is flooded and he can’t get over. When he gets back to where he left Chuck, he is gone. Teddy thinks he sees him lying bottom of the cliffs, and climbs down to help him. But when he gets there, he can’t find him. Instead, he finds a woman in one of the caves. She claims to be the real Rachel Solando, and says she was a psychiatrist on the island, until she started questioning the experiments they did on the patients. She says that they are attempting to recreate their brains, so that they can’t feel pain, love, fear or any emotions. She points out that all the aspirins and all the cigarettes and the food he have been eating, have contained drugs.
The day after, he returns to the hospital, where he speaks to Dr. Cawley, and when teddy asks him if he has seen Chuck, the doctor says that Teddy came to this island alone. Teddy is convinced that they have taken Chuck to the light house, and he decides to swim across to get to there. But all the rooms are empty, except the last one, where he finds Dr. Cawley, who seems to be waiting for him. Dr. Cawley tells Teddy that he have been a patient on the institution for the last two years. He shows Teddy how his name (Edward Daniels) and Rachel’s name (Rachel Solando) is anagrams for Andrew Laeddis and Dolores Chanal (the name of Teddy’s wife). He then proceed with telling him that Teddy really is Laeddis, but he created a different person for himself, because he couldn’t handle the truth about how his wife drowned their children, and then he killed his wife. They have been letting him live out his imagination the past three days, as an experiment to see if he got any better from that. His partner, Chuck, was really his psychiatrist, and if he didn’t get any better, they had to perform lobotomy as a permanent solution to his problem, since he was one of the most dangerous patients on the island. Teddy confesses that he killed his wife, and he also blames himself for the murder of his children, because he knew that his wife was sick, but ignored it.
A while later, Teddy calls his psychiatrist Chuck once again, which proves that he once again live in his fantasy world. The psychiatrist shakes his head to Dr. Cawley, who is watching them, giving the green light to perform the lobotomy on him, since he isn’t getting any better. As the doctors are approaching him, he asks Chuck “Is it worse to live as a monster, or die as a good man?”, implying it is better to die as Edward Daniels, than to live as Andrew Laeddis.
Is this film a typical Hollywood movie?
I didn’t feel like this film had much in common to the typical Hollywood movies, because the story was very original, and not something you that often. The film was also based on a novel, which always makes it a bit different from the Hollywood movies.
The film have some few well-known actors, like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley, but both of them are the kind of actors who can, no matter how many movies they have starred in, play a different person in every movie, unlike some of the other Hollywood actors, who are only good at playing one personality. This makes their characters unique, and you don’t confuse them for being someone from another movie they have starred in.
The end of this movie also leaves you with a big question, is he really crazy, or did the doctors come up with this because he had discovered what they did on the island? This is very unlike those typical Hollywood movies, who tell you exactly what is going on, with no more questions. I personally love these kinds of movies, because the entertainment isn’t over when the movie comes to its end. Weeks after I saw this movie, I was still thinking about whether or not he was crazy.
This movie also opens to a debate, where you can discuss about what you think the true story is. “Was teddy really Laeddis, or is his fantasy world real?” is the key question. Some think he is insane, and some think he isn’t, and there are many evidences that prove both theories right or wrong.
Another thing that makes this movie different from the other Hollywood movies is the lack of “cheesy lines”. This is very characteristic for Hollywood movies, when the hero stops in the middle of his action, and says a cheesy line before he continues. I always hate when they do this, because it just reminds me that it is a movie, since this would never happen in real life. And way too often, the line isn’t even funny, so it ends up being plain stupid.
There isn’t any big special effects either, which I think is a good thing. Americans have a tendency to exaggerate the use of special effects, making it seems very unlikely. The only thing that can be called a special effect in this movie is the big storm one of the nights. They made it seem very real, because they didn’t do a big thing out of it. If you have too many special effects in one film, you can’t use as much money on each of them. This causes the effects to seem cheap, and amateurish.
One thing that almost every Hollywood movie contains is a big fight, often extremely dramatic and exaggerated. There was a very small fighting scene, but like most of the happenings in this movie, they didn’t do much about it, which is a good thing, because it just seem more realistic this way, since no normal human being can be hit by a chair straight to the head without getting no more damage than a small cut above the head.
This movie is actually one of my favourite movies, for many reasons. The director has done a good job with the script, making the conversations seem real, and the cutting between the scenes are done in a good way, creating a special mood during throughout the movie.
He has also done a good job on selecting the actors. The few really famous actors who starred in this movie is one of the best actors in America, in my opinion, because their characters are convincing. When I saw this movie, I didn’t feel like a saw Leonardo DiCaprio in yet another movie, but I was convinced that it was Edward Daniel’s (or Andrew Laeddis’) actions I saw.
This is a film you can see over and over again, without getting tired of it, because every time you see it, you discover something new you haven’t seen before, and when you notice all those little things, it changes the way you see the movie.