Needless to say why I had been eager to see the film. Yet for the uninitiated, let me confess for the umpteenth time that Martin Scorsese happens to be one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, and Leonardo DiCaprio is a favorite actor for whom I have had a huge admiration since I first saw him in "What's Eating Gilber Grape".
But this time, I was having a whole lot of apprehension too...
Recently, on a Bangla television channel, Anjan Dutt, the much acclaimed filmmaker from Kolkata who needs no introduction, has publicly rubbished "Shutter Island" saying that he was so appalled that he could not even sit through it!
After having watched the film, I can easily debunk Anjan Dutt's claims, which now expose him all the more more as a disgruntled creative individual with wrongly channelized gumption.
Incidentally, a few years back I was seated next to Anjan Dutt at a Kolkata multiplex (Inox-Forum) where he came with his son to watch the Clint Eastwood film "Mystic River". I remember, shirking from interacting with him after I found him visually frustrated by the film that unfolded on screen. On the other hand, I loved the film "Mystic River", which is based on the novel penned by Dennis Lehane, who also happens to be the writer of the novel "Shutter Island" which Martin Scorsese has filmed, and I must admit that I loved the same nervous energy and the character-based conflicts that pepper "Shutter Island".
The film "Shutter Island" finds Scorsese collaborating with many of his favorites yet again, from lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio (who has previously worked with him in "Gangs of New York", "The Aviator" and "The Departed"), cinematographer Robert Richardson, film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and music supervisor Robbie Robertson.
The cast of "Shutter Island" includes, apart from Leonardo DiCaprio, such stupendous talents as Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer, Elias Koteas, Patricia Clarkson, and Ted Levine.
The story emerging through layers of dread, deception, enigma and intrigue, is actually quite simple.... or so I thought.... however, the story-telling is quite remarkable, to say the least. It would be a shame to divulge the details about the tale, as the emotional jigsaw puzzle that the tale offers to a viewer, ready to uncover and solve, is better not spoiled.
The manner in which the characters are assembled for us viewers makes it a treat to watch, just like all of Scorsese's films. From the very beginning the visuals just grip us completely and make us ready for all the madness and bewilderment that ensues.
Scorsese is the master of invoking suspense and paranoic atmosphere, and here he succeeds brilliantly. The body of the film is richly textured, and, in parts, it even brings back the magic of Alfred Hitchcock. Our fears, our beliefs, our weaknesses, our secrets are often locked up, and in "Shutter Island", a serious viewer can surely
probe such natural tendencies to keep things all wrapped up. But even for a lay viewer, the film holds much charm and thrills that never fail to mesmerize.
The film's title (the book's too) refers to the remote island where apparently a murderess is believed to be hiding after having escaped from a rather strange institutional facility for the criminally insane.
The film can be best classified as a psychological mystery-thriller; much of what is seen and experienced pose questions; the thin line between reality and delusions often gets blurred. Everything is not as it seems.
Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo and Max von Sydow have added a lot of nuance to their characters. Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson and Emily Mortimer have fantastic screen presence and they've brought out their best even in the short scenes.
Re-creating the atmospheric tone of the Fifties, and even the flashback scenes that depict the horrors of the Second World War wouldn't have been as difficult and exacting as the portrayal of the paranoia, ranging from the fears about communism to that about brain-washing, which is perceived by the characters. The perfect casting makes that job easier.
The asylum having only one point of entry (since the island’s terra firma sits atop a base of sheer cliff walls) provides much scope for the exquisitely created dark interiors and visual effects. The experiencing of trauma, anxiety and grappling with doubts, distrust and 'disappearance' becomes the leitmotif, and the symbols of loss of sanity effectively embellish the scenario.
I would personally recommend the film to all my readers,
and to all cine-lovers.
Just indulge yourself in the magic of cinema.
Savor the brilliance of a maestro, immerse yourself in the topnotch scenes and the noirish twists, and let's rubbish the trashy criticisms of frustrated cynics, let's just tell them to shut up their big mouths!