In 2003, author Dennis Lehane wrote a suspense novel named Shutter Island which was highly acclaimed by readers and now made into a film of the same name by legendary director Martin Scorsese.  He decided to re-team yet again in this film with Leonardo DiCaprio who has all ready put out stellar performances with Scorsese at the helm in films such as The Departed and The Aviator

            We are taken back in time to the year 1954 where U.S. Marshall and World War II vet Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) has been assigned to find an escaped prisoner/patient, Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer), who disappeared from Ashecliff Hospital.  The hospital is an institution for the criminally insane.  He is paired with a brand new partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) to help him solve this case.  Early on, we realize Daniels has some potential past demons himself which are contributed by the fiery death of his wife, Dolores (Michelle Williams).  A delusional maintenance man, Andrew Laeddis (Elias Koteas), set their apartment building ablaze and she never made it out.  Upon arriving on the island, Daniels and Aule meet the head psychiatrist, Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley) who takes the two Marshalls to Solando’s room and explains her specific case.  The wife of a war veteran, she drowned her three kids in their backyard lake but still believes them to be alive and she is still at home while the rest of the patients in the hospital are her neighbors. 

            As the two continue their investigation, they notice random suspicious things about the hospital and its staff.  There’s an entire wing of the institution that houses the hospital’s most dangerous patients.  Even the other patients are afraid of this lot.  But no one is allowed entry into this part of the hospital without the accompaniment of both Dr. Cawley and Deputy Warden McPherson (John Carroll Lynch).  The longer they are there, Daniels begins to have his own frightening occurrences.  He starts having migraines and sees flashes of his deceased wife, Dolores, as well as memories of his days as a soldier in the aftermath of the Holocaust during World War II.  He seemingly begins to become obsessed with the investigation and even his partner starts to question his state of mind. 

            Shutter Island follows suit to a long line of suspense thrillers as in films such as The Others and The Sixth Sense.  But with its screenplay, written by Laeta Kalogridis, Shutter Island maintains its own identity.  It keeps you enthralled in its story and grips you so tightly you begin to feel like you are a patient at Ashecliff or at least one of the characters in the movie.  You can imagine what it would feel like to be behind the stone walls of one of the rooms.  You can seemingly smell the hallways and feel the eerie and uneasiness of the island.  The ongoing rainstorm during the first half of the film adds to this uneasy feeling of dread and depression.  Scorsese seems to be at his best with his direction and vision of bringing this novel to the big screen.  There is no doubt that the year is 1954 from the clothing to the cars.  It is also very clear that Ashecliff is not a place you want to end up.

            While Scorsese and Kalogridis make you feel like one of the patients, DiCaprio makes you feel like Teddy Daniels.  You feel his every emotion from determination to frustration to anger to confusion.  You argue right alongside him while he is in his many debates with the doctors at the hospital.  You want to solve this mystery just as much as he does and get as far away from this place as quickly as possible.  Ben Kingsley is a calm, educated caring doctor who insists the people there are not prisoners but patients that he desperately wishes to cure.  You want to agree with him and have him committed himself at the same time after hearing some of the crimes these prisoner/patients have done.

            Overall, this is one of the best suspense thrillers to be crafted.  Undoubtedly, probably following the novel much of the way, Scorsese delivers a keeper.  Although pretty lengthy at two hours and eighteen minutes for a story of such suspenseful magnitude, it plays out rather nicely and doesn’t disappoint with an ending that will have you kicking yourself for not figuring out the mystery before it is revealed.  I thoroughly give Shutter Island “4.5 mental institutions for the criminally insane out of 5”.  “Is it worse to live as a monster or die as a good man?”