Shutter Island review
Shutter Island is a film about a man at war with himself. The mental hospital in which the story takes place is said to have been constructed during the Civil War, and the freakishly enigmatic "Ward C" (where the really crazy ones are kept) was a fort in that war. Ben Kingsley as Dr. Cawley even remarks on the state of psychiatric study: a polarized philosophic mess of old and new ideologies. Internal conflict. So, it's the usual for a psychological thriller, except this time, it's Scorsese-fied.
Scorsese and DiCaprio have made a super-charged genre picture. Because of this, some will find the film cliche and too close to the mark. They wouldn't be wrong, but they'd be missing the point. Nitpickingthe plot of any film is a tremendous waste of time. A film's aesthetics are far more important than its literature, and that above all else seems to be the focus of Shutter Island. Sure, you could list off references to past thrillers (I even flashbacked to Skull Island, of all things, during the opening scene), most notably those of the master himself. Both Scorsese and DiCaprio have cited Vertigo as a major influence, and indeed, the tale of a haunted man warped by his memories of a (blonde) woman isn't simply similar. But also remember Hitchcock's mantras of cinema: not as "a slice of life, but a piece of cake," and "technique over content."
And oh, such technique, such style. Scorsese has long been acknowledged as a wizard of of the camera, but I find his utilization and mastery of modern film making techniques downright astounding, especially his humblingly efficient use of computer generated special effects. Can you imagine The Aviator without the glossy galvanization of the crash sequence, or the ridiculous realization of the H-4's liftoff? I can't. Shutter Island is not without equally impossible visual wonders. The psyche is home to many elaborate and surreal dream sequences (or hallucinations... who knows!), including the converged perceptions of misrememberings, and the confetti-like, atmospheric, ashy remains of a fire victim, not really affected by gravity, but listless and tormenting.
Also, maybe it was just me, but I found this film to be a joyous playground of motifs. The final shot is a quiet pan over the island's craggy, New England cliffside, settling on the lone image of a lighthouse, a symbol of guidance. This is also the place where the facility performs lobotomies. Chilling! Especially when considered alongside the title itself: the light of memories hidden, even erased, by the quick and easiness of a shutter.