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Shutter Island

Crazy Like a Schlock: Scorsese is as crazy does in Shutter Island.

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I kinda can’t believe that everyone involved in Shutter Island—from novelist Dennis Lehane to screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis to director Martin Scorsese to star Leonardo DiCaprio— thought they could get away with this. Have they not seen the 943 other thriller-in-an-asylum movies?

Now, it’s true that this is Scorsese, so it’s more stylish than any given made-for-SyFy flick—all misty mysteriousness and some very fine performances, particularly DiCaprio’s. But no, I refuse to believe that Scorsese—who made Boxcar Bertha in 1972 for Roger Corman—is unfamiliar with cheap, pulpy, cinematic thrills.

Scorsese attacks us, as the film opens, with portents and omens, as a ship slips from the fog of outer Boston harbor approaching remote Shutter Island. The ominous, portentous score booms with portentous omens, as U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his new partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo, also very fine), arrive to investigate the escape of a dangerous prisoner-patient from the hospital for the criminally insane that inhabits the island. Boom BOOM BOOM the music goes, like war drums as Teddy and Chuck have to give up their sidearms and the maximum security gates of the facility bang shut behind them.

For a while, I tried to keep in mind that maxim, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” Maybe something else—something more interesting and fresh than what seems to be obvious, something we hadn’t seen 943 times before—would, in fact, turn out to have been going on all along. But ultimately, Shutter Island seems determined to prove that sometimes paranoia really is just paranoia, and that crazy is as crazy does.

SHUTTER ISLAND

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Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley
Rated R

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