2010 was a big year for Leonardo DiCaprio, playing not one but two psychologically wounded widowers. There was Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi blockbuster Inception and Martin Scorsese’s mystery thriller Shutter Island.
In Shutter Island, DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb (albeit with a different name), a cop sent to investigate the escape of a dangerous patient from Ashecliffe Hospital – a facility for the criminally insane located on the titular island in Boston Harbor. It’s set in the 1950s and has a good eye for detail, while Scorsese’s direction is reliably strong – for the most part; some unfortunate decisions make a few of the flashbacks and dream sequences unintentionally laughable. The cast are also reliable actors giving reliable performances; Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow and Mark Ruffalo nicely support a compelling lead role from DiCaprio.
Beyond that, however, Shutter Island feels curiously lifeless. Any emotional resonance is completely negated by the film’s heavy-handed melodrama; any tension destroyed by the over-the-top score, which would be effective if only it would shut up for two seconds. Then after two hours and twenty minutes of unexciting sleuthing and English GCSE thunderclaps comes an ending which leaves you wondering why you’d been made to watch any of it. As with Inception, Shutter Island‘s enormous sense of self-worth turns out to be misplaced when its infuriating finale renders the entire thing completely meaningless.