The history of the greatest film directors would be incomplete without mentioning Martin Scorsese. His work spanning from Mean Streets all the way to The Departed vindicates his brilliance and versatility when it comes to filmmaking. While Shutter Island fails to reach the genius present in masterpieces like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, it is still a genuinely thrilling movie that is akin to a piece of dialogue that occurs towards the end of the movie - “it was like an insect clicking across my skull”
One of the film’s most ubiquitous strengths is its ability to maintain tension throughout the narrative. Although the premise of detectives investigating a missing person and having their sanity questioned is somewhat cliched, the usage of dialogue and pauses beckons spine-tingling moments that occur throughout the film. But the real star of the show is what I call the Shatterpoint Technique, which relies on dark lighting, a terrifying location and a merciless soundscape, all of which force a fearful response from both the audience and the protagonist. I have learned a great deal from Scorsese that I will be sure to utilise in my future filmmaking projects involving the Shatterpoint Technique.
I was also impressed by the diligent performances of Leonardo DiCaprio, who is more than worthy of being Scorsese’s next DeNiro, as well as those of Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, and Michelle Williams. While DiCaprio delivers as a tormented detective (both literally and figuratively), it felt as though the plot was crying out for attention, drawing attention to the gratuity of the subplot concerning Max von Sydow’s character. That being said, I found that the usage of motifs and clues throughout the film suited its genre as a thriller quite well.
Despite the occasional flaws in green screen effects, the colour palette and the angles utilised by cinematographer Robert Richardson was absolutely exquisite and cleverly constructed. Scorsese’s orchestration (no pun intended) of the various pieces of music, coupled with the sound editing, further propel the spine-shivering tonality of the film. Although I’d take a Scorsese gangster caper over Shutter Island any other day, that doesn’t prevent me from welcoming it as one of the director’s strongest achievements in cinema.
Rating - ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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