Leonardo DiCaprio chats with Roger Ebert about ‘Shutter Island’

"Shutter Island," which opens Friday, is the fourth film Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese have made together, and the most unexpected. It's not a biopic ("The Aviator") or a modern gangster movie ("The Departed") or a historical gangster movie ("Gangs of New York"). It securely occupies that most American of genres, the film noir -- the dark film, the film that takes place in the shadows of human nature.

DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a United States marshal. The time is 1954, toward the end of the original film noir era. His assignment: Help find a woman killer who has disappeared from a prison for the criminally insane on a remote and craggy island. It's a Locked Room mystery, because there seems to be no way to leave the island alive.

Daniels and his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) arrive seen with those two invaluable props of the film noir hero, fedora hats and cigarettes. They talk like film noir heroes -- tough and aggressive. On Shutter Island they encounter a man, however, who seems to come more from the horror genre than film noir. This is Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), the precise and remote  man in charge. Reading the original novel by Dennis Lehane, he reminded Scorsese of the hero, if that is the word, of the silent film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari."

I sent DiCaprio some questions. His replies, as I might have expected, were thoughtful and perceptive. He is and always has been (ever since "This Boy's Life" and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" in 1963) an intelligent actor, never content to be only a star, although that certainly happened after "Titanic" in 1997. "This Boy's Life" was his first major feature, and it's interesting that he co-starred with Scorsese's muse, Robert De Niro.

READ Q&A WITH ROGER EBERT


Actors, Interview, New Movies


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