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Martin Scorsese again borrows material and creates a dark document of the workings of a disturbed mind. While doing so he also plays with yours and by the end of Shutter Island, you come with a solid coin back: heads, it ended this way, tails, it ended that way. Keeping the coin aside for a minute, it feels impossible for Scorsese to have given you the result of that toss himself. He walks on a fine, fine edge and more or less leaves the film there in a cloud of ambiguity.

The film begins with a sea-sick Leonardo di Caprio leading a team of two to Shutter Island, a mental institution for criminals, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of an inmate. As they approach the island, the captain of the ship asks them to disembark quickly, because a “storm’s comin'”. You know it isn’t just a weather storm. The eerie look of the first five minutes will bring a more pressing storm which might affect both the protagonists and you. It is, as always with Scorsese’s films, part of creating an atmosphere for the film to draw you in. A storm is worth it only if it can scare everyone on either side of the movie screen.
Scorsese carries the film with utmost care: like a hero trying to disconnect a time bomb not knowing which coloured wire to cut. The only problem is that Shutter Island has to be definitely ambiguous. If it goes one way, it becomes a cheap action thriller and if it goes the other, it becomes a supernatural film. You can tell, very soon into the film, that there might not be many ways to end it. Because Scorsese won’t sell his film cheap he has to resort to a more intricate formula, but formula it is. So what remains is some of the elements that make it his film.
There is Leonardo di Caprio, of course. There is his unique way of using the camera to tell a story. There is the atmosphere which draws you in at least till the end of the film. But there is very little else Scorsese. Which is perhaps his most significant signature on a non-gangster film.