This psychological thriller from Martin Scorsese had so much potential, with its twists and turns, blurring the lines between sanity and insanity, and almost cruelly pushing the protagonist on further in his quest to find out the truth, but the film just took too long to get to the point and felt rushed at the end, leaving us feeling disappointed to have gone on the journey in the first place.
The beginning had such promise, with the audience learning straight away that this is no ordinary assignment for US marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio ) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo ). The choppy water crossing to Boston’s Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital proves difficult for seasick-prone Daniels, in fact water is a theme throughout the film, adding an ominous tone to proceedings.
The year is 1954 and Daniels arrives at a mental institution, treating some of the most dangerous and insane criminals, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. However, we quickly find out that Daniels has more personal reasons for accepting such an assignment; we are constantly bombarded by flashbacks of Daniels as a soldier seeing the dead bodies at the concentration camp in Dachau and of his longing to be with his wife who, we are told, died in an apartment fire sparked by a scar-riddled mad man. Armed with this knowledge we realise that Daniels has certain prejudices; he confides in his partner that he believes the doctors running the asylum are conducting unethical experiments on the patients and that he has his own vendetta.
As Daniels attempts to uncover the mysterious disappearence of a patient, to find out the identity of a 67th patient, one whom the doctors deny exists, we are brought on a journey through the creepy hallways of this asylum and at the same time down the dark paths of the human mind. The doctors thwart Daniels’ efforts at every turn as the hurricane descends on the island, creating even more confusion. Afflicted by a headache and confronted with unexplained clues Daniels struggles to continue his investigation and begins to doubt everything, his reason for being there, his memory, his partner, and even his own sanity.
For much of the film I was completely engrossed until I realised that this story could have been told in half the time and it seemed that not enough time was left to develop the end, which had the biggest twist of all.