2009 Certificate: 15


Mind-altering drugs, infanticide and a sinister psychiatric hospital are thrown into a heady psychological brew in Martin Scorsese's gothic thriller. Leonardo DiCaprio is the US marshal despatched to the daunting Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a missing child killer (Emily Mortimer) from a high-security clinic. However, he has his own reasons for making the trip...


  • Martin Scorsese


  • Leonardo DiCaprio

  • Mark Ruffalo

  • Emily Mortimer

  • Ben Kingsley

  • Michelle Williams


Say what you like about the NHS but there's very little chance of our health service running somewhere quite as grim as the psychiatric hospital on Shutter Island.

For a start it's run by dicky bow-tied Dame Ben Kingsley, inmates can flee from unlocked cells if the power fails (not exactly high security then) and it's perched on a storm-blasted rock somewhere off the New England coast.

However, its existence as a mysterious private fiefdom supervised by Dame Ben is thrown out of whack when triple child-killer Emily Mortimer appears to vanish from her cell and slip past the guards.

Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) - an ex-grunt heavily traumatised by the liberation of the Dachau death camp and further cursed by the murder of his wife in an arson attack - is the mentally fragile US marshal sent to probe the disappearance.

While he and his new partner Mark Ruffalo search the grounds and quiz the reluctant staff and patients, it emerges that Teddy is working to another agenda, one that features the firebug who set the fire that killed his wife.

Adapting Dennis Lehane's novel, director Martin Scorsese has crafted a good, old-fashioned psychological thriller which makes full use of raging storms, remote lighthouses and labyrinthine mental wards.

What you see is certainly not what you get as what initially kicks off as a straightforward police procedural unnervingly slips into a nightmare world of hallucinations, manic schizophrenia and terrible delusion.

DiCaprio is on fine form as the careworn investigator driven by a rabid personal obsession but the star of the show is the hospital itself, a Gothic Bedlam of dripping corridors, manicured lawns and peeling wards.

At well over two hours, it could have done with some pruning but Scorsese still manages to keep the story rattling along with a wry sleight of hand and a masterful manipulation of the narrative.

Word to the wise...stick to BUPA.

Tim Evans