Shutter Island (2010)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Sir Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Jackie Earle Hayley, Patricia Clarkson,John Carroll Lynch

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Rating: 1 2 3 4 and a half

Ben Kingsley as Dr Cawley, Mark Ruffalo as Chuck Aule and Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island

A policeman is summoned to a remote island to investigate a mysterious disappearance. But on arrival, he's met with evasions, half-truths and cryptic warnings within a strictly structured environment ruled by an authority figure whose philanthropic benevolence seems to mask a more sinister agenda. Sound familiar?

Our hero, decorated war veteran turned Federal Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio),  may not be a virgin, but he finds himself every bit as baffled and disconcerted as Sergeant Howie by the events on Shutter Island, which houses not a pagan community but a maximum security asylum for the criminally insane. Together with his partner, the level-headed, laid-back Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), he must track down a delusional killer who has vanished without trace from a locked cell. But, haunted by memories of his actions at the liberation of Dachau and the cruel death of his wife, Dolores (Michelle Williams), it quickly transpires that he too is not telling the whole truth.

Like The Wicker Man, Shutter Island is a fascinating, nail-biting psychological thriller which twists and turns its way through a plot that is predictable enough to make you fear the worst, but shocking enough to keep you gripped. Complete with guttering electrics, creepy, bug-eyed inmates and enigmatic scribbled notes, it's also the best tribute to Hitchcock since Identity, the ominous, swelling score, moody lighting and relentless stormy weather build the perfect atmosphere for suspense.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels in Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island

As ever, Scorsese wrings some fantastic performances from his stellar cast. While the film definitely belongs to DiCaprio, who's on top, edgy (shaggable) form as the beleaguered Marshall, Sir Ben Kingsley turns in a splendid performance as the smooth Dr Cawley, whose revolutionary treatments may or may not conceal a darker purpose. And then we have Max von Sydow as the creepy Dr Naehring (is he a Nazi doctor or not?) and Watchmen's Jackie Earle Hayley as a deranged, neurotic patient cowering in scary C block. What more could you want?

Sure, Shutter Island is hokey, overblown and far-fetched but it glories in its retro, film noir magnificence with an exuberance that's totally catching. And while it's never going to be Goodfellas or The Departed, it knocks the socks off your average thriller. So take your meds and prepare for a twisty ride, because the trip to Shutter Island is well worth taking.

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