“Shutter Island” is a film loaded with atmosphere, from the pelting rain against the windows, the stormy seas, the dark corridors of the mental institute, to the lighthouse which is surrounded by grey skies and water washing up on the jagged rocks which surround it. There is even a cemetery scene which takes place in a downpour and strong storm. It definitely presents a bit of a Gothic ambiance.
The story works better in the first half when there is a lot of mystery regarding the disappearance of a woman, who apparently broke out despite the cell door being locked from the outside and her window being intact. The question is whether she escaped or is somewhere on the island, and mysteries begin to creep in to the story, which for a time leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. The second half of the film delves more into the mind and the corners of the minds of some of the characters and it soon is difficult to discern what dark secrets are true and what are imagined.
The story still manages to keep the audience’s attention to the end and Leonardo DiCaprio gives as good of a performance as I’ve ever seen him give, playing a federal Marshall who is not afraid to ask the tough questions of the staff and who suffers painful recollections of his wife’s death. He begins to crack with some of the discoveries he makes and one begins to wonder if he will wind up as a patient in this asylum. The movie does effectively convey how tragedies can affect people.
Unfortunately, the film contains a lot of strong language as well as bloody violence which hits a four in our rating, with five being the highest level we have. Some male patients are also seen nude from the front and due to the content listing, which includes a lot of smoking in the movie, we cannot award this picture our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal.