Shutter Island (2010) – Movie Review


U.S. Marshall Leonardo DiCaprio, troubled from his experiences during World War II and the death of his wife, finds himself in the last place he needs to be, a mental institution for the violently criminal insane investigating the disappearance of a patient who killed her three children.  To say, they don’t make them like this anymore, would be an understatement.  This is among the best of its genre ever made.

The thing that sets the best psychological thrillers apart from the more common  form of these, such as the likes of Halloween and Friday the 13th,  is the degree of believability of the story.  Shutter Island is as near believable as can be.  The movie set just after WW II, combines how people are affected by the horrors of war, especially the horrors of seeing first hand the results of the death camps such as Dachau, with their and their family’s attempts to cope with the lingering thoughts which won’t go away.  Combine these problems with the confluence of 3 approaches to curing mental illness;  psychotherapy, chemical treatment and surgical procedures bordering on criminal themselves, while adding in the paranoia of the cold war and its attempt to find ways to harness psychological experimentation to give the winning edge, and all facets of the story become very believable.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a documentary.  All these factors of history and life get blended into the story which keeps us in our seats for the full 2 hours and 20 minutes of the film. Enhancing the believability are the stunning locations and sets where the movie is shot,  adding further credence to the events that transpire.

Leonardo DiCaprio continues to give stellar performances in substantial movies, making him one of the best actors working today.  You may not think so while watching the first 10 minutes of the movie.  However all things fit together in the end.   Martin Scorsese seems to have lost none of his magic making great movies which at the same time both trouble our minds and entertain.  The supporting cast is first-rate at juggling who their characters really are with the psychological perceptions of those around them.  The cast  never gives away the real truth as the story progresses.

On the numb butt scale, this rates a 1 only because at almost 2.5 hours, it’s physically difficult not to get a little numbness back there.  So pick a theater with comfortable seats and enjoy the ride.


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