I can’t tell you much about this 2010 drama by Martin Scorsese because the less you know, the more you’re likely to enjoy the movie. What I can tell you is this, in 1954 a deputy US Marshall named Teddy Daniels believes a prison off the coast of Massachusetts for the mentally ill may not be what it seems. He believes the facility is being used as to test the bounds of brainwashing in a Nazi-esque barbarian fashion. As he was one of the GI’s who liberated Dachau, he doesn’t take to kindly to this occurring on American soil. He finds a partner and an excuse to get on the island to do some snooping and “blow the lid off” the secret.
The problem for Teddy is that nothing appears to be as it seems and the more he discovers the more confusing it gets. No one seems to trust each other and even the two Marshals begin suspecting each other. Is it true or are things not so bad or are the partners simply losing it or are things actually worse than even Teddy imagined? Well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.
This movie is odd, confusing, dark, stylized, and aspects of it, most notably the score, seem almost jarringly out of sync with the rest, but none of these statements is a criticism. In fact, it seems Scorsese wants the audience to be driven a little crazy too, so that by the end you, the viewer, is in a state of unease, questioning what you’re seeing and hearing. I bring up the score because it is very odd and seems turned up too loud, like a boat horn. But it works. In fact, just about all of it works. It’s clear that Scorsese wanted to turn up the darkness meter on this one in every decision he made, not just the score. He enlisted Robert Richardson to do the cinematography, a cinematographer famous for movies like Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds. And he hired Laeta Kalogridis as the screenwriter, who’s currently working on other projects called things like Demonkeeper and Darksiders and who previously wrote the quite freaky Russian horror flick Night Watch. The production designer’s the guy that did Sweeney Todd and Interview with a Vampire. Hell, even the warden is played by the guy who played Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. You get my point. This is a tense, dark, brooding sort of picture that will leave you in a pretty heavy place. If that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for, then look no further. Everyone does a great job in this and the quality comes through.