Shutter Island

Rated 3.0

On a dark and stormy night in 1954, on a weather-beaten island off the Massachusetts coast, troubled federal marshal Leonardo DiCaprio, along with his strangely deferential new partner Mark Ruffalo, undertakes to recover a filicidal escapee from an insane asylum run by Ben Kingsley. But the marshal’s investigation is beset by psychological obstacles and much sinister melodrama. Martin Scorsese’s film of Dennis Lehane’s novel doesn’t reinvent any of the wheels it spins, but there is a sense of Scorsese quite enjoying this rather commercial exercise: the best-seller-based suspense thriller as gothic horror noir throwback. Here the director can run his own version of the playbook for ambitious filmmakers trumping up pulp—whether it’s working the likes of Ligeti into his soundtrack, à la Kubrick, or swimming among his influences and staging scenes as primers on tension building, à la Tarantino. It’s perversely satisfying to watch DiCaprio grow into the torrid anguish of his part, and his fine supporting cast also includes, among others, former Nazi Max von Sydow, dead wife Michelle Williams, raving inmate Jackie Earle Haley, tortoiselike warden Ted Levine and mystery woman Patricia Clarkson.