IF the 80s were the golden years of Scorsese and De Niro (with a number of collaborations, including Goodfellas, King Of Comedy and Raging Bull) then the noughties are the moment when Scorsese left his faithful partner for a younger, hotter alternative.


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IF the 80s were the golden years of Scorsese and De Niro (with a number of collaborations, including Goodfellas, King Of Comedy and Raging Bull) then the noughties are the moment when Scorsese left his faithful partner for a younger, hotter alternative.

Shutter Island marks the fourth leading role that Leonardo DiCaprio has enjoyed with the directing legend.

They've brought along such revered cast members too, such as Ghandi star Ben Kingsley and friendly hearthrob Mark Rufallo.

So this definitely had a lot of promise, and although Scorsese's outputs in the last ten (maybe even twenty in fact) years have been pretty scattershot - for every The Departed there's been a decidedly average Gangs Of New York.

But, to be fair, an 'average' film from Martin Scorsese is a pretty good film for near-anyone else.

And with an intriguing trailer and previews suggesting this has a Hitchcock feel to the whole thing, this could be either a sterile rip off or teetering on classic - and with the modern master at the wheel it could well be the latter.

Thoughts Afterwards

MYSTIFIED, shocked, expected.

That was the consensus as I and a good majority of the theatre left a late screening of Shutter Island.

And in making sure this is a spoiler-free review I will only be very vague.

Basically, the film plays out like a moody, beautifully shot episode of Scooby Doo. Or an episode of Jonathan Creek with DiCaprio as the shaggy-haired detective.

Not that that's as a bad thing, as the perfectly realised eery setting of Shutter Island captures the imagination quickly and the key mystery (the escape of a mental patient from a seemingly inescapable room and isolated island) is intriguing from the get-go.

There's that funny feeling throughout top, that only the very best directors can create, that something more is going on. Everyone on this island seems like they're guilty, apart from the insane patients!

So as 1950s detective and trusty partner get to grips with figuring out what the hell is going on, with many cigarettes to ease the stress of the asylum (in typical Mad Men-esque style).

The setting and photography are gorgeous, and the acting is sublime though. These are the key factors that drew me in and even slightly cheesy (and overdone) dream sequences didn't distract from the plot (though I imagine they'll be an annoyance on repeated viewing).

This is, from memory, the closest Scorsese has come to 'horror' since Cape Fear and you can feel the enjoyment he was having in this tribute to the king of this genre (the eerie suspense detective type film) Alfred Hitchcock.

There's a million nods to the great man himself, my favourite being a lengthy dialogue in a jeep that is clearly not realy filmed whilst on the move. These references are charming and definitely add a well needed heart to the often disturbing events on screen.

Is Shutter Island a worthy tribute though? Does it live up to (or even succeed) the great films of Hitchcock and the like?

I reckon yes, although I just wish the conclusion hadn't been so overdone in recent years.

If this had been made thirty years ago it would be a sure-fire classic. It has everything in place - it is very well made, looks and sounds great, has a soul that few films have and an intriguing mystery with a satisfying conclusion - but it's lack of originality in it's ending definitely docks it marks.

The closing line of the movie almost wins those points back, leaving a cunning mark that led to a good conversation on the drive home, and it's certainly the best of this genre from recent years.

It'd be a classic in 1960, but in 2010 it's just a typically fantastic and ridiulously solid Scorsese / DiCaprio partnership.

TIM LINCE

4/5 STARS