Plot summary (with spoilers): Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshall assigned to investigate the disappearance of a patient at Ashecliff Hospital, an asylum for the criminally insane located on remote Shutter Island off the coast of Boston. Teddy has a new partner for the case, Chuck Aule (played by Mark Ruffalo), and the two get right down to business by interviewing Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley), the head psychiatrist for the facility.
The missing woman is named Rachel Soldano. She was a mother who murdered her three children by drowning them in a lake, and then carrying on wit her day as though nothing happened. Rachel apparently escaped from her room — which was bolted from the outside — and made it past the guards and electric fence. She must be somewhere on the island still, otherwise her body would have washed up on the rocks already.
Teddy and Chuck question other guards, orderlies, and patients as they try to figure out what happened. Nobody seems particularly helpful or anxious to get Rachel back. Because of the general feeling of the place, which reminds Teddy of liberating Dachau during World War II, he begins to think that there might be Nazi-like experimentation going on at Shutter Island. Chuck isn’t entirely on board with that, but backs his boss up.
The rest of the film then shows how Teddy and Chuck begin to uncover the secrets of Shutter Island and the mental hospital. Along the way, we get flashbacks of Teddy’s war experiences, as well as of his now-dead wife Dolores (Michelle Williams), whose apparition continually implores him to leave the island.
- This movie was very suspenseful right from the start. I was immediately drawn into the story, and despite the 2-hour+ length, finished the entire thing in one sitting.
- I know the ending has created some controversy, but I tend to believe that
Teddy was insane and that Crawley was telling the truth about the role play. I kind of had an “Oh, yeah” moment as the truth was revealed, and I’m sure upon second viewing I’d be able to pick up even more clues.
- DiCaprio is so good at playing tortured souls. I was riveted by his performance, and now rank him as one of my favorite actors. Wow.
- There were a few too many dream sequences with the wife for my tastes. Those scenes interrupted the flow of the film more than anything else.
Martin Scorsese films are definitely hit-or-miss for me; Shutter Island is a massive hit! This is a great psychological thriller that will keep you guessing right up to the end — and perhaps beyond. I give it 5 stars out of 5.