Adaptations of Dennis Lehane novels in recent years include Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning Mystic River and the excellent Ben Affleck debut Gone Baby Gone. Martin Scorsese makes it third time unlucky in this poor adaptation, but is that any surprise given that the source material is not great in the first place? Once again, Scorsese has put Leonardo DiCaprio at the centre of the picture. He plays the US Marshal Teddy Daniels, sent to investigate the mysterious disappearance of an asylum inmate (Emily Mortimer) who killed her three children. Arriving alongside him is his sidekick, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), and the opening sequences as they venture to Shutter Island, learning about the asylum and its inmates and bizarre administrators, suggest an atmospheric mystery thriller. Despite Ben Kingsley's and Max Von Sydow's menacing performances as the gatekeepers to the asylum, though, the film never lives up to its promise and soon turns into farce as we learn that all is not right in the head of Daniels, who consistently dreams about his dead wife (Michelle Williams). It's at this point that Scorsese loses control of the material as he telegraphs the twist, which is obvious to anyone who has seen The Shining or Memento. The action jumps from one ridiculous event to another as Daniels climbs into a cave, swims to a lighthouse and has run-ins with crazies. When Scorsese feels the need to have the plot explained on a blackboard, you can't help but think that maybe he should just make music documentaries henceforward.
Published: February 18, 2010 04:00 AM