Shutter Island

It was a dark and stormy night...

Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane ("Mystic River"), Martin Scorsese directs this psychological thriller which takes us into the murky nether- world which lurks between delusion and reality. We journey with a U.S. Marshal and his partner as they are called to an island in the icy waters off Boston Harbor to investigate the disappearance of a mental patient who is incarcerated there: "Shutter Island" is a mental institution for the criminally insane. Our marshal is convincingly played by Leonardo DiCaprio ("Revolutionary Road"), while Mark Ruffalo ("Zodiac") serves as his partner.

Along with those two capable leads, the top-notch cast includes:
  • Michelle Williams ("Wendy and Lucy") is the marshal's deceased wife; we visit her only in flashbacks or dreams.
  • Ben Kingsley ("Transsiberian") heads the team which manages the asylum; at times he seems TOO reasonable.
  • Patricia Clarkson ("The Station Agent") seems to be a fugitive; at least she's intelligent and articulate.
  • Max von Sydow ("The Tudors") is one of the officials on Shutter Island; does he have a Nazi past?
  • Emily Mortimer ("Match Point") plays a traumatized patient; or perhaps is a stand-in for someone else...
  • Jackie Earle Haley ("Little Children") is a grotesque inhabitant of one of the dingy cells.
I usually find Scorsese off-putting because of the violence in his films, but this wasn't as violent as many of his outings, and the thought-provoking nature of the central issue stayed with us. We learned more than we wanted about post-traumatic stress, migraine headaches, trans-orbital lobotomies, shock treatments, ice baths, etc., etc., but we certainly were never bored!