The two Dennis Lehane film adaptions we've seen so far have been both impressive, enjoyable, and heavily emotional dramas.
Clint Eastwood's direction of Mystic River and Ben Affleck's direction of Gone Baby Gone were both exceptional, and retold these stories in powerfully cinematic ways.
It is this tradition that a third Dennis Lehane is adapted for the big screen, the film Shutter Island, based on Lehane's 2004 novel comes out this year.
I am excited that Martin Scorsese is directing (with his favorite actor, Leonardo DiCaprio staring), because I think that it would easy for a no-name no-skill director to ruin the intensity and poignancy of a Lehane novel.
I have high expectations for Shutter Island. I just finished reading the book, and found this island thriller to be an incredible exciting and interesting story.
It'll be interesting to see what tone and emphasis of the story Scorsese and screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis show in the screen version, as the stories emotional tone and presentation certainly has a variety of directions that could be taken.
Overall, I am excited for this film because it follows a cinematic tradition of high energy psychological thrillers, while packing the punch that comes with a high quality cast and crew.
The General Premise & Characters
(no spoilers in premise...promise)
Shutter Island takes place in the 1950s, as two marshalls, Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, are sent to a unique island. The island houses Ashecliffe, a maximum security prison/mental hospital. The prison/hospital has a dual charter as a maximum security prison for mentally unstable patients who cannot be constrained and treated at a typical prison.
The federal marshalls, Teddy and Chuck arrive on the Island to help investigate and find a missing patient, Rachel Solando, who seems to mysteriously disappeared from her cell, although the facts presented by the warden and chief physician, Dr. John Cawley, seem to be anything but helpful to the federal marshalls. Especially as they search for a doctor who has recently left the island, and no information is provided to them on the status of the missing doctor, and it would appear that there is a massive cover up as to the where abouts of Rachel Solando.
Rachel has appeared to leave codes that the Teddy seems particularly adept at breaking.
It is early on, that these two marshalls develop a close relationship, and it becomes clear that Teddy's intentions in seeking out this particular mission is no coincidence, as he is looking for a man named Andrew Laeddis, a prison who Teddy believes to be on the Island. Teddy has reason to believe that Andrew Laeddis killed his wife Deloris and that he has recently been transferred to the prison/hospital and is held in the extra-high-security Ward C on the Island.
The Cast & Why There Casting Is Exciting
The two field marshalls Teddy and Chuck will be played Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo. For some reason, I think I pictured these field marshalls a little older when I read the story, but I think they both will do a fabulous job. I loved Mark Ruffalo's performance in Zodiac, and think that this is a great encore performance, that will allow him to flex an acting muscle he doesn't get enough of a chance to flex. Leonardo DiCaprio will also do an exceptional role in the principal role. It certainly is an exciting, thrilling, and emotionally wide role that he should excel in.
The two creepy-less-than-helpful 1950s psychiatrist will be played by Max von Syndow and Ben Kingsley. I think they will both be exceptional in their performances as well. Syndow's role is probably too small for excessive recognition, but I think that Kingsley has a great opportunity to impress us again. Kingsley is a favorite actor of mine, and I think he is very well cast for this central role.
Emily Moritmer has impressed me as such a sensitive and soft spoken actress in Dear Frankie and Lars and The Real Girl, but in Shutter Island she plays Rachel Solando, the escaped prisoner credited with mental manipulation and horrific crimes, having killed her three children and maintained delusions that they are all still alive, and that life has continued as normal. Mortimer's sweet soft-spoken nature could potentially seem unsettling and uneasy, as supporting females in Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone made us feel.
Michelle Williams will be portray Teddy's wife, Deloris, who appears in flashback sequences. It is hard to say what type of role this will be in this film, as it really depends on how the screenwriter has written the film and what type of prominence he gives to the flash back sequences. But it could be a tiny but important role, or it could be a little more meaty, I don't think we can truly know without seeing the film or the screenplay.
James Earle Haley is cast in this film as a patient with some meaty scenes. Ted Levin, John Carrol Lynch, and Curtiss Cook play central warden's and staff who work at the facility.
Patricia Clarkson is billed in this cast, and I have a pretty good idea as to who she plays in this film, although I think a character name in billing is purposefully not provided. I have some ideas, but don't want to present plot spoilers here, if you're interested we could discuss my theories in the comments.
I think this film is exceptionally cast and should be one of the most exciting films of 2009.