“Insanity” is sometimes defined as being “lost in the corridors of your mind.” Director Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” takes us on a search through the mazelike corridors of an asylum for the criminally insane, but we may be merely inside one inmate’s brain. Either way, “Shutter Island’ is an exercise in extreme creepiness.
A quirky combination of “A Beautiful Mind and “The Snake Pit,” “Shutter” begins with a simple “missing person” investigation. On the case are two federal marshals, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). The Shutter Island asylum is where they’re investigating the disappearance of Rachel Solando, a woman convicted of drowning her three children. Spooky head psychiatrist, Dr. Crawley (Ben Kingsley), doesn’t provide much information, other than to say that Rachel appears to have “evaporated through the walls.”
With furrowed brow and his “Departed” Boston accent, DiCaprio pulls out all his acting chops to lead us on an odyssey, which brings to the surface innumerable skeletons in his character’s mental closet. In fact, the “Silence of the Lamps’ psychos jumping out at him may not actually be there. And is German shrink Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) only a dark shadow developed from the days that Teddy, as a World War II soldier, librated Dachau concentration camp?
Adapted by Laeta Kalogridis from the Dennis Lehane novel, “Shutter Island” compensates for its strange lack of scares and suspense with pageturning intrigue under the sure hand of a cinematic master. Certainly it takes a master to make the multiple parts of the jigsaw puzzle make sense.
Amazingly enough, when we arrive at the ending, the mystery is miraculously understandable. Creepy crazy entertainment, but understandable.