Film: 'Shutter Island'; Director: Martin Scorsese; Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley; Rating: ***1/2
The hallmark of a good suspense film is that almost nothing is what it seems. The actors enacting the writer and director's vision strut on screen and play with your mind, entangling it in a web of chaos, leaving you clues on the way, till finally releasing you in the film's climax, or not.
The director-actor duo of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio return on their fourth outing together with another such visual treat in 'Shutter Island' that you will not forget in a hurry.
The mysterious disappearance of a woman from a high-security prison island for the criminally insane brings detective Teddy (DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck (Ruffalo) to Shutter Island in this film, set in 1954.
There seems to be no obvious way she could have escaped from this island, yet she is untraceable. The doctors, led by Dr. Cawley (Kingsley) are not supportive either.
Teddy suffers from dreams of his army service in Europe during the second world war, and his wife who had died in an apartment fire a few years back.
Looking for clues, Teddy discovers a sinister plot of grand proportions. Nothing indeed is what it seems: the island, or the affable looking doctors, nor the patients and definitely not Teddy. There's a truth everyone is hiding and Teddy is determined to find it. However, the intrigue keeps building up.
Midway through the film, a patient tells Teddy: 'You are not investigating anything. You are a rat in a maze.' This leaves an eerie chill in him, and in the viewer who was by now beginning to unravel the mystery a bit.
The ending, as expected, is surprising, yet not totally unexpected for a discerning viewer who had been paying attention. Those who had not might enjoy a second viewing.
Though not at par with many of his previous films, Martin Scorsese who returns to directing feature films after a gap of four years - since 'The Departed' which was a remake of 'Infernal Affairs' shows he has not lost form. His continuous reliance on cinematic chills, rather than cheap Hollywood thrills, is a relief to lovers of cinema.
In many ways DiCaprio takes over from where he had left off in 'The Aviator'. He effectively portrays the fear and claustrophobia inside his character's mind as walls crumble around him. An adept soundtrack and good cinematography which includes a large number of quick pans add to the audience's delight.
Teacher-philosopher J. Krishnamurty had said that the problems we see in the world are a reflection of our individual problems. His message was that if you better the individual, you better society by default. 'Shutter Island' is an enunciation of this veritable truth that we all can do well to remember.