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Shutter Island – Not for the faint of heart

February 25, 2010

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Shutter Island, the much-anticipated box-office hit – based on Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel of the same name – was released in Dutch movie theaters this week. Last night I went to see it and for the full 138 minutes running time I was glued to my seat – that is, except for the moments I jumped out of it with apprehension.

Set in 1954, federal Marshals Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are sent to remote Shutter Island to investigate the escape of a murderess from the island’s hospital for the mentally insane. From the first shot of Shutter Island’s silhouette against the gloomy sky, the viewer is submerged in a gothic-like world of deceptive characters and hidden motives.

As the investigation unfolds, Teddy and his partner discover disturbing secrets about the psychiatric institution and it’s staff, including chief psychiatrist Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley). Teddy’s traumatized past – his experiences in Nazi Germany and the loss of his wife in a domestic fire – makes him even more dedicated to solving the mystery. But could his personal memories also blur his perspective on the events that are taking place? Because what if not everything is what it seems? Shutter Island’s complicated storyline leaves us mystified until very late in the movie. And even then certain questions remain unanswered.

Shutter Island is bound to be an academy award favorite in 2011 if you ask me. The plot is truly gripping; Martin Scorsese has done a superb job directing it; and the acting – with DiCaprio and Kingsley as my personal favorites – is excellent. Let me add that if an Oscar for best location scout existed, it would have to go to this movie. For it’s film locations, including Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor in Maine and Medfield State Hospital in Massachusetts are just astonishing.

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