A brilliant psychological thriller
ikkegoemikke - wrote on 02/16/15
A cuckoo's nest on an island
A brilliant psychological thriller where nothing seems like it should be. You'll be mislead the whole movie. The denouement is extremely surprising and plausible, but then turns right back to an open end which raises the same question : Is Ted still living in his unreal delusional world or is he really aware of his ultimate identity and thus voluntarily commits suicide to get rid of the agonizing trauma that chases him for years? Indeed, a true "mind fuck " in this movie.
Scorsese placed the whole story on a remote island. Superbly portrayed as an isolated, desolate, rough rock where escaping is impossible. Using the ferry is a possibility but it's in the hands of the institute. The movie begins as the ferry arrives on the island with Ted (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) on board . I'm not a huge fan of Leonardo, but I must admit that I could appreciate his performances in "Django" and "Inception" and I don't look at him as the youthful Jack from "Titanic", but more like a chameleon-like actor who has gradually found its place among the other big boys.
The other actors are not the least. Mark Ruffalo plays a decent role as partner annex personal psychiatrist Ted. Personally I thought he's more convincing in this role then as Bruce Banner in "The Avengers" and recently as Dylan Rhodes in "Now you see it".
Ben Kingsley is a class act who plays the head psychiatrist with bravado and suppleness . The has a unique view on the treatment of psychiatric "patients". It's masterfully to see how his deadpan expression can change from compassionate to chiding. Max von Sydow is a well established value with a finicky small contribution. In that split second, he shows how psychiatrists feel superior over other human beings.
What begins as an apparently simple detective story with a search for an escaped patient, turns into a whirlwind of claustrophobic proportions. The threat and insane atmosphere accumulates systematically. The interior of Block C was soaring and fits well with the idea that the most dangerous individuals are imprisoned there. Far off from the outside world. The lighthouse is a gloomy edifice that stands out against the dark ocean and could indeed turn out to be a place to perform true inhuman experiments.
Gradually the question arises whether Ted is indeed insane or that he's involved in a grand conspiracy to cover it all up. His flashbacks of Dachau and dreams about the alleged dramatic death of his wife, the delusions of rats on the rocks, the trembling of his hands and sometimes psychotic manners, point out to the first. The story of the hiding female psychologist Rachel, surely makes you doubt again. The story of the mark that you get after internment is credible. Whatever you do to prove the opposite, it will always be reduced to the fact that you're insane.
Fifty years from now, people will look back and say, "Here, at this place, is where it all began The Nazis used the Jews, Soviets used prisoners in Their Own Gulags And we -.., We tested patients on Shutter Island."
The final revelation was also a surprise for me and explained everything that preceded. The turnaround to total awareness and to admit that he lived all those years in a delusional world, proved the successful outcome of the whole set-up. I only doubt that you can apply this technique in reality.
The final sentence then puts everything in an entirely different context : "Which would be worse - to live as a monster or to die as a good man?" Is Ted still that monster or is he the cured repented patient who deliberately commits euthanasia by using lobotomy ?
Excellent movie !!!