DiCaprio comes face to face with his past... or does he?

When one sees a movie preview featuring a woman disintegrating into ash and gnarled old men hollering while leaping at Leonardo DiCaprio, one might believe that such a movie is a horror film.

False.

“Shutter Island,” based off the novel by Dennis Lehane by the same name, is in fact a psychological thriller.  Had I known this fact in advance, I would not have to have been dragged kicking and screaming, to the theatre. Imagine my pleasant surprise to find myself viewing a psychological flick that had me on the edge of my seat and yelling at the screen during parts that outraged me instead.

U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) is summoned in 1954 to Shutter Island, a mental hospital for  criminally insane convicts, in order to investigate the disappearance of an inmate. Quite predictably, a severe storm traps him there, and he is unable to take the ferry back home to Boston.

During his extended stay, Daniels begins to uncover more and more of what appears to be serious abuse of the patients, including imitations of Nazi-esque brain experiments. It also is revealed that the directors of the institution have lured him there because of his own dark past, with which he is still struggling. If he is to avoid becoming their next guinea pig, he must both outsmart them and let go of the past that still haunts him.

DiCaprio’s performance is outstanding. He expertly embodies a trained detective hot on the trail. Just as brilliant is the other side of Teddy: an ex-soldier scarred from witnessing the Holocaust. Still more superb is the wounded man grieving for the loss of his beloved wife and learning to accept her death. The perfect Boston accent works in his favor too.

Some plot twists are admittedly and disappointingly predictable. However, the last heart-pounding five minutes and concluding line, delivered almost in a whisper by DiCapario, salvages any dissatisfaction. If a number one ranking and a more than $41 million dollar gross on opening night is not proof enough of a good movie, I don’t know what is.

Director Martin Scorsese’s name most likely contributed greatly to the big numbers at the box office, yet he still deserves a pat on the back. He stayed true to the original novel and delivered to the audience an excellent film. He can now add another stellar film to his shelf.

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