It opens tomorrow, but we saw it tonight: SHUTTER ISLAND will make you shudder. And think. And keep you guessing. And maybe bore you a little bit too–somewhere 2/3rd of the way through I found my attention going slack, but mostly it’s pretty engaging, and this was agreed upon by me, Marji, my daughter and four of her 15&16 year old friends. Not bad.

This time Scorsese’s pre-occupation with man’s violent nature at war with the moral order of things is cloaked in a gothic horror film. We first encounter Marty’s muse-the actor Leonardo DiCaprio– as a U.S. Marshall throwing up on a slow boat to an insane asylum; its come-hither moniker? Ashcliffe. Picture a crumbling edifice atop barren rocks loaded with rats, a stormy night, creepy guards, ominous music, clanging gates, a spiral staircase al la “Vertigo,” a cemetery, nazis, bloody flashbacks, horrible nightmares, haunted inmates; throw in Max von Sydow and Ben Kingsley as the heads of the institution and you’ve got a party!!!

As Leo enters the grounds, he says to the guard who tries to relieve him of his gun,”You act like insanity is catching.” (or words to that effect) And so we catch a glimpse of what Scorsese is up to: leave your defenses at the door, and get ready for the ride. And what a ride! Is the lawman paranoid? Or is there something fishy going on? Or both? Is he crazy? Or asleep? Or dead? Or suffering post-traumatic stress? Or survivor’s guilt? Or what???

The script accounts for the ending which I did not see coming, though a second viewing would probably settle my stomach, and a few details, if Scorsese didn’t cheat–and Scorsese isn’t a cheater. I don’t want to risk giving anything away and only say that it works–and the last question is a humdinger: satisfying and a bit of a cliffhanger all at once, if not as emotionally cathartic as I might have wished…


Good night–
And stay tuned.