Shutter Island: movie review

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This is a review for the movie adaptation. It has no spoilers. If you're interested, my review for the book can be found over here.
I am no movie expert or critic, so I can not say much on the film's technicalities. All I know is, with this movie, I was sitting on the edge of my seat; entertained, creeped out, and intrigued the entire time.
I read the book before seeing the movie, and if you are wondering if the movie lives up to Dennis Lehane's haunting novel, I can say that yes, it definitely does. This is one of the very few movie adaptations based off a book that actually satisfies and maybe even exceeds expectations.

The well-acclaimed director, Martin Scorsese, did something unique for this story, and made it even more twisted, if that was even possible. He put many subtle hints and touches, that makes the total feel and vibe of it realistic. He also added the creepy factor, as there were times that I literally had goosebumps. I have to clear this out though, Shutter Island is NOT a horror movie, but is more of a psychological thriller that has its share of horrific moments.
Of course, it's not all up to Scorsese to produce a good film. The actors carry a movie, and especially in one that builds its foundation on its characters, the portrayals are crucial.
Personally, I found Leonardo DiCaprio's performance to be flawless. He dove right into the main character's shoes like it was his all along, making me not only see what he sees, but feel for everything he was going through. I also thought Ben Kingsley did a great job with his role as the kind and sympathetic, but mysterious Dr. Cawley.

As you're watching this, you will be full of questions until the ending is revealed. That ending, I thought had an incredible build up, and was delivered perfectly. Even when I already knew what the conclusion was going to be, I still found myself awe-struck and shocked by it. It was heartbreaking and mind boggling all the same time.
I heard some people say that this movie was "too complicated." I believe, we all enjoy movies that simply entertain, make us laugh, cry, or feel good. Sometimes though, I also like movies that make me think. This movie asks you to do that, without meaning to. Call it "complicated," I think it just challenges its viewers, like me, to think outside the box. That is actually one of the reasons why I liked it.

Though these kinds of mysterious who-did-what, what's-going-on stories might have been dealt with times and times before, this movie delivered the same concept in an entirely different way. Another clever thing was that this movie will also prove that you do not need big, jumpy scenes to scare the audience and make them feel disturbed. Psychological terror that digs deep into our fears are more than enough.
Having said all that, Shutter Island is a clever, haunting, thought-provoking, smart and an overall entertaining movie full of thrill and suspense that everyone should watch at least once. Whether you like it like I did, or not, one thing's for sure. It's a mind trip.

Generally, I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone. Mostly if you:
1. have read the book (I thought the movie stayed very faithful to it)
2. are a fan of Scorsese and DiCaprio
3. like thrilling, mysterious, crazy, creepy, eerie, & haunting films
4. like movies, period.

However, this isn't exactly for everybody.
Maybe think twice if:

you scare and get nightmares easily (a.k.a me, but I still watched and liked it anyway)
2. you don't really like movies that keeps the answer to all your questions until the very end. Some people like drawn out mysteries, some like to get the answers right away. If you are the latter, read the spoilers if you'd like. I still think it's a good movie to see.

"Is it better to live as a monster or to die as a good man?"


  1. This is a great review, Jillian! Very on-point and I like that you're just a regular movie-goer, like most of us.

  2. Great review Jillian! I really enjoyed this one and loved that it kept me wondering until the very end. That last quote was so sad.

  3. Awesome review I have the book haven't watched the movie yet. Sounds like a good one thanks for the review.

  4. Great review! I have read Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (along with most of his other books) & this one by far is one of my favorites! When I saw this movie was coming out I was so excited! I love reading books & comparing them to the movies. This is one movie I can't way to see!

  5. Thanks everyone!

    @naida: I loved your review on the movie as well, and I agree, the quote was just too sad.

    @mybookbarn: Mystic River, also by Lehane, definitely comes as a close second as my favorite book-movie. Have you read and seen it? :)