Shutter Island is Scorsese’s loving tribute to the RKO mood and atmosphere movies of the 1940s and 1950s. Working off the famous Dennis Lehane novel, Scorsese and screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis decided to go in a different direction. Making a movie of the mind allowed Scorsese and his team to mind something different out of a period murder mystery.
It’s been 10 years since Scorsese’s most underrated Post 2000 movie was released. The more years pass, the more I enjoy the experiment into atmosphere horror. Bumped out of a packed 2009 Fall Season by Paramount, hindsight shows that it might have been a dumb move. The film might not have won a ton of Oscars, but it would have stood a shot at competing.
Leonardo DiCaprio remains one of the last true movie stars. Leaning into the role with the conviction of Brando and the passion of Stewart, the audience buys his entire decline. Watching as DiCaprio moves from U.S. Marshal to reluctant prisoner and then to failed husband reveals something stunning. People are only as strong as their mind allows.
Unreliable narrators and central characters are fun…to a point. I get why the third act reveal irritated so many people. Sure, Elias Koteas was pretty fun in the role within a role. It’s just that the final identity swap was a leap too far. Is it a ghost story? Hell, is it a film about treating mental illness Post World War II? Well, it’s a cake that tries to serve both parties, but neither party asked for that particular flavor.
The ghost of Val Lewton leans heavy on this film. Shutter Island has many points of reference. There’s a little bit of William Peter Blatty and a fair bit of Hitchcock. Beyond that, Scorsese did his own thing. Moody cinematography exists past the 1940s, so I don’t feel like Shutter Island exclusively belongs to that era.
However, it exists in a time where homage is a bit too much. I’m just glad that the killer 2160p 4K transfer makes every inch of Robert Richardson’s cinematography shine. Stunning work all around and quite deserving of your time and attention.
The 4K UHD comes with a stunning 2160p 4K UHD transfer in time for its 10th Anniversary. There are no new special features. Still, it’s nice to have such a quality upgrade in a steelbook at this time. I’d recommend a purchase.