I guess we all run out of money sooner or later, and evidently Martin Scorsese just went through that himself, otherwise why in the world would he have agreed to direct “Shutter Island”? “Shutter Island” is one of those ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’ films that have no reason for being other than to show how smart you are and how dumb we are.
Made from the novel by Dennis Lehane, it shows us two Federal Marshals arriving at some kind of government jail on an island off the Massachusetts coast, for ‘the worst of the worst,’ as they are told upon arrival – murderers, including one woman who drowned her children and then was immolated when a firebug torched her house. Oh, and did I forget to mention that she was the Marshal’s wife? How thoughtless of me. And now she’s somehow escaped this locked facility. The Marshals – Leonardo Di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo – are there to help find her.
There are some strange things going on, including an early shot of a lighthouse up on a hill, that somehow moves down onto a rocky island in the sea the next time we see it. It does stay there, however, with no means of access, except that that’s where all the experimental lobotomies are performed. The patients evidently swim to their island rendevous. However, I digress.
Di Caprio puts on a Boston accent, something he apparently got from watching “Good Will Hunting,” but his partner Ruffalo, whom we are told comes from Seattle, also tries a Boston accent, and misses badly.
In any case, things go from bad to worse; first, there’s a hurricane, then the ferry to the mainland stops working, then Dr. Ben Kingsley, the head of the place, is strangely unresponsive to their questions, then another doctor, Dr. Naehring – played by Max von Sydow, you remember from “The Seventh Seal” – seems to have been a Nazi concentration camp experimentor. So along with the blown-down trees, the red herrings pile up and up until we can’t see over the top of them anymore.
So now we must ask ourselves: what in the world is going on? My own lips are sealed, of course, but “Shutter Island” is the kind of film that actually bogs down as we get to the final solution (no pun intended) instead of speeding up. And you and I have lots of time to guess at the secret of “Shutter Island.” Use it wisely.