DiCaprio plays the part of a former FBI agent who slaughtered his wife after she became mentally unstable. She murdered their only child and thus he ended her life in return. On account of his temporary insanity and membership in the Federal Bureau of Investigations he was transferred to a minimal security mental facility to ideally cure his condition. It is there he weaves a web of lies and distortions to heal or deflect the immense anguish he felt after the incident with his family.
In an effort to lead our sympathetic main character to the truth of his actions, his primary psychiatrist becomes his fellow FBI agent in peril. They are assigned to Shutter Island where everyone seems secretive. The warden of sorts, played by Sir Ben Kingsley is running out of time. He has only about two years to find a lasting cure or extreme measures will be necessary to treat negligent patients (lobotomy, electroshock therapy, experimental medications). This prompts the warden to devise an elaborate scheme celebrating the patient’s delusions and to role play until the truth about his condition could be uncovered. Role playing would theoretically lead to an acceptance his of reality or permanently render the patient stuck in a self-manifested world of conspiracy.
In the patient’s mind he is still an FBI agent and his psychiatrist (Mark Ruffalo) is his new partner. Both men are sent to the Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient (Michelle Williams). Sadly, the missing patient he must find at any cost is his deceased wife. As a hurricane nears the electricity fails and the timing is perfect for the plot to play itself out. The patient is helped out every step of the way as some orderlies are instructed to act obtuse and others drop hints about the truth of the missing patient. He is given access to nearly the entire island and conveniently, since his FBI partner is his psychiatrist in disguise, he is watched throughout the episodic journey to uncovering the truth of his actions and the reality of his place in life.
The novel is terribly sad. It is sort of similar to Flowers For Algernon in that the characters are both guinea pigs inside of mental institutions searching for a truth greater than they can imagine and in the end both are brought down by sobering realities that crush their spirits. The novel is exciting and the film should be stellar. Scorsese directs, DiCaprio stars and Kingsley lends some gravitas. Here is looking forward to tomorrow.
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