DiCaprio is one of my favourite actors. He has appeared in many of my favourite films and has continued to grow and develop as an actor and, in the process, has managed to outgrow his teen heart-throb "Titanic" phase. "This Boys Life", "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", "The Basketball Diaries", "Catch Me If You Can", "The Aviator", "The Departed", "Revolutionary Road" and now "Shutter Island"...all films I could watch more than once and all featuring great performances from DiCaprio.
Scorsese has made iconic, classic and groundbreaking films throughout his career; "Mean Streets", "Taxi Driver", "Raging Bull", "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore", "Goodfellas", "Casino" and the films already mentioned as well as too many others I haven't.
The film that most of the critics feel this most closely resembles is the Scorsese vision of "Cape Fear". That isn't meant as a compliment as many people feel that that film wasn't worthy of the director or his previous muse, Robert De Niro, and it was slated on release. I liked it. I thought it was an obvious nod to the films that shaped the young Scorsese and informed his style.
Like "Cape Fear" "Shutter Island" is filled with the style and atmosphere of film noir and through it's paranoid, twisted, dark plot it takes the viewer on a real journey. It tells the story of US Marshal, Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) as they investigate the case of a dangerous female patient who has escaped from "Shutter Island" which is home to a hospital for the criminally insane. The wardens, staff and doctors at the hospital all clearly know something that Daniels and Aule don't and they are further hindered by the sinister Doctors Cawley and Naehring (Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow).
What follows is an increasingly tense series of attempts by Daniels to unveil what exactly is going on. He is haunted by visions of his dead wife and his visit to Dachau at the end of the second world war when he was part of the US liberation force. In one, chilling, scene Daniels holds his, inexplicably wet, wife as she bleeds, burns and, finally, crumbles in his arms...the burning is a reference to his wifes death in a house fire but the water is only explained at the films end.
It's difficult to say much more without giving away plot spoilers but I loved this film. DiCaprio is brilliant and you can sense how much Scorsese enjoyed making this. It's full of twists, turns and sinister goings on as well as featuring great supporting performances from Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow in particular. Mark Ruffalo also provides further evidence to support his claim as most undervalued actor of his generation.
Catch this if you can.