Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As Shutter Island has a huge twist at the end, there are spoilers in this review as indicated by bold warnings.
One of my favourite types of movies is those with a huge twist or something that makes the movie more interesting and fun to watch. From Se7en (check out my review for it here) to The Prestige, some great films have been made with twist endings. I recently watched Shutter Island with my uncle, not expecting much from it. By the end, I found myself in shock and awe over how brilliantly made this movie was.
Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Sir Ben Kingsley is Shutter Island. US Marshal’s Edward ‘Teddy’ Daniels and his Chuck Aule are travelling to Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island to investigate the peculiar disappearance of a patient, Rachel Solando. The pair investigates and interviews various people, only to learn that Solando’s doctor, Dr Sheehan, is away. During their investigation, Daniels reveals that his wife, Dolores Chanal, was killed by an arsonist, Andrew Laeddis. In a dream, Teddy sees a little girl and his wife Dolores, and she tells him that Solando is still on the island somewhere, as is Laeddis but the staff on the island claim he was never there. Soon, Solando resurfaces, prompting Teddy to break into Ward C, the most criminally insane of the patients to look for Andrew Laeddis. While investigating, Teddy meets George Noyce, who tells Teddy that everyone on Shutter Island, even his partner Chuck, is playing a game designed for him to solve. As the mystery deepens, it’s down to Teddy to find Andrew and uncover the true story about what is really happening on Shutter Island.
Leonardo DiCaprio played Teddy Daniels and, like most of DiCaprio’s performances, it was fantastic. His acting ability is on point, as his emotional complexity allows the viewer to know exactly how he is feeling and further engages the viewer with the film. DiCaprio made the film more enjoyable and interesting. Chuck Aule was played by Mark Ruffalo, who is a talented actor, but I find his acting very rigid and he doesn’t have much range. As an actor, he was great in Shutter Island but I couldn’t help but feel that someone else could have been better. Don’t get me wrong, he was fairly well suited to the role, but there were people who could’ve done better. I felt that as good as Ruffalo was in this film, but he was lacking in some areas that, if they were fulfilled, would have may have actually made the film better. Sir Ben Kingsley played Dr John Cawley, the overseer of the mental hospital. This was my first time seeing a film with Ben Kingsley in it and I was impressed by this acting skills. As Dr Cawley, Kingsley had the perfect tone of mysteriousness mixed in with a sense of sanity. It comes to make sense at the end of the film, which makes Kingsley’s acting choices even more commendable. He, much like DiCaprio, made the film more intriguing. Michelle Williams played Dolores Chanal, who did a great job playing the somewhat psychotic character. The character chemistry between Teddy and Chuck, and also Chuck and Dr Cawley was very well done. You must hand it to Ruffalo because though he may not have much range, he is able to act phenomenally with any other actor in any situation he’s put in.
⚠️Now scroll down to the next bold warning to continue reading my review. I am now going to discuss spoilers for Shutter Island. I highly recommend that you watch the film though, as it’s a truly amazing movie. You can watch it on NowTV and Amazon Prime Video.
The film is slow to start off with but then builds to something truly amazing at the end. Teddy is convinced Chuck has been taken to the lighthouse on the island and breaks in as an attempt to rescue him. There, Chuck and Dr Cawley await, ready to explain everything to Teddy. As he was told by George Noyce, it was all a big game played on Teddy. Dr Cawley reveals that Edward Daniels is, in fact, Andrew Laeddis and that he killed his wife, Dolores Chanal. Rachel Solando is revealed to be Dolores Chanal, and the girl in his dream is his daughter. Rachel Solando was never real, it was just a nurse playing her. It is then revealed that the viewer that Andrew Laeddis came home from work to discover that Dolores has drowned their three children. In a scene superbly acted out by DiCaprio, Edward tries to rescue his children and breaks into tears. Dolores explains that they can take care of the children like dolls, but Teddy then shoots her. From here we can piece together some of the story. where insane Edward kills his wife, then is taken to Shutter Island and put in Ward C before creating the alternative personality of US Marshal Edward Daniels. Edwards Daniels is an anagram of his real name, Andrew Laeddis, and Rachel Solando is also an anagram of Dolores Chanal, Andrew’s wife. Dr Sheehan was actually Chuck this whole time too, explaining why Chuck was paired with Teddy in the first place. Mind blown.
It gets even better. If you rewatch the movie, or just pay very close attention to the movie, you will notice little details that show that somethings up, and this is mainly shown through the use of water. For example, there’s a scene where a woman being interviewed by Teddy is drinking a glass of water. We see this from Teddy’s point of view, but she does not have a glass in her hand. We then cut to an over the shoulder shot of the woman putting down a glass. Teddy has blocked out the water, as it is part of the reality he is trying to forget (Dolores drowned his children). Further, in the interview with the woman, she looks at Chuck when describing Mr Sheehan and looks awkwardly at Teddy when asked if she had ever met Andrew Laeddis. There’s even more, where any scene with water represents Andrew trying to escape his past, such as the boat trip to the island at the start of the movie. I’m pretty sure if you watch this film with the keenest eye, there will be the tiniest of details that Scorsese has snuck in.
⚠️We are out of spoiler territory. No more spoilers will be mentioned in this review.
Despite this movie being slow to start off with and a little dull in places, it was certainly worth the wait. The whole ending reveal is marvellous, mind-blowing and will leave any viewer in complete shock and awe. It must be handed to both director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. Scorsese was able to bring together this fantastic story and portray it in a cinematic way that was an all-around great experience. DiCaprio was honestly one of the best parts of the film. Like most roles, he immersed himself in the character and gave a truly fantastic performance. Together, you have the awesomeness that is Shutter Island.
Overall, Shutter Island gets an 8.1/10 from me. It was a brilliant film which, though had me a little disinterested in places, left me in complete amazement over how crafty and smart this film was. I’d highly recommend that you watch this film. It’s currently available on NowTV and Amazon Prime Video. It makes for the perfect movie night in and will leave you wanting to rewatch it.
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Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week for a horror movie review. Please note as I’m headed to China for a week on Thursday, the reviews are likely to be out late. But I’m kind of facing my fear of horror movies to do this. See you soon!