Shutter Island

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(2009) ★★★★★

Film4: PREMIERE Sunday 31 May, 9pm

US marshals Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo dock at Shutter Island in 1954 to investigate the disappearance of a female killer from its fortified mental institution for the criminally insane. They’re going to wish they never arrived. And a raging storm ensures they cannot leave. The head shrink is solicitous, pipe-smoking Sir Ben Kingsley, which is a bit worrying. His colleague is courteous Nazi Max von Sydow, which is no less disconcerting. “You act like insanity’s catching,” says DiCaprio to deputy warden John Carroll Lynch. In DiCaprio’s case, this could be true. He’s haunted by a double dose of dreams and hallucinations, none of them happy. This boy’s got the Dachau blues, bad. And he’s stuck in a schizophrenic plot that lurches with delirious revelations, imported wholesale from Dennis Lehane’s pulpy source novel. The Shock Corridor plot might be out of control but, going for baroque, director Martin Scorsese clearly isn’t. From first glowering sky to last, his grasp of florid material is far firmer than it was in his 90s Cape Fear remake. If nothing else, Shutter Island’s splendidly overwrought setting goes straight to the heart of the paranoid insanity of the Atomic Age. And it shouts ‘Boo!’ The sleight-of-hand might not make much sense but, boy, it’s a good-looking trick. As for the delusional DiCaprio, he’s left with Groucho Marx’s dilemma: “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” The imposing music – a selection of works by the likes of Max Richter, Gyorgy Ligeti and Krzysztof Penderecki – is insanely melodramatic. Fitting, in the circumstances.

Certificate: 15
Duration: 138min