Shutter Island

A trailer for new Scorsese film Shutter Island is online, which for anyone with a healthy appetite for cinema that deals with psychological trauma, preferably in a dark and atmospheric institutional setting, is rather exciting news. We start with a shot of a ship emerging from a misty sea, and switch to the crew’s first view of the titular island (shots which, incidentally, reminded me of Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake). Surly guards ask DiCaprio, in the lead role, to hand over his firearm, and it’s here we get a first taste of what may well be one of the film’s major flaws: Leo’s accent, which is terrible, and grates in the same way it grated in The Departed. Fine actor, but what a whine!

Walking across the front garden of – what turns out to be – an institution for the mentally ill, we see an horrifically emaciated old woman with a deep red scar across her neck. Eerie! The inside of the hospital has distinct One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest vibes: all black and white tiled floors, nurses in starched white uniforms and black orderlies in the same. Mad woman mopping the floor? Check. But this is clearly a different beast, because Milos Forman’s tour de force did not feature what this apparently does, which is heavily tattooed men in dank, almost pitch black prison cells. Or Sir Ben Kingsley, who pops up here as a baddie in a bow tie.

An overhead shot shows the whole building, which is as big and as thick-walled as a castle! Plenty of room for ghosties and jumpiness. The trailer gives strong hints that Scorsese is channelling Stephen King as rendered by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile). We even get an inmate who has seemingly vanished into thin air or, as Sir Ben says “it’s as if she evaporated … straight through the walls”. Spooky! A flash cut to a pale woman covered in blood, and after that it’s a jumble of rain, paranoia, lights flickering on and off, things dripping, and, what’s this? Jackie Earle Haley? Max von Sydow! Now this is exciting.

Bow-tied Ben says he has “built something valuable here” (and is “not going to give up without a fight”). Not that this makes any difference to the chances of me going to see the film – with this cast and that director it’s a dead cert – but one does rather hope that like his leading villain Scorsese too has put together something of value, rather than recycling bits and bobs from elsewhere which, on the evidence of this at least, looks a distinct possibility.

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