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Shutter Island Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Not a wacky coconut-telephone island either. Read full review


Jen Yamato Profile

Who says every film has to be a masterpiece? Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Despite its flaws, Shutter Island is worth seeing for the palpably nightmarish and gothic world conceived by Scorsese

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    It's a pleasure to experience Scorsese as a circus master. One just hopes he doesn't continue in this vein.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Shutter Island holds you, but it doesn't grip you. It's as if Scorsese had put his filmmaking fever on psychotropic drugs.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal

    Not since "Raging Bull" has Mr. Scorsese so brazenly married brutality to beauty. Not since "Kundun" has one of his films felt so aspirational.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Shutter Island reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Twisty, disturbing Scorsese thriller too intense for most.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Shutter Island is a very intense thriller, with some highly disturbing imagery, including drowned children, Nazi concentration camps, piles of corpses, blood, guns, dark prison corridors, and bizarre, scary nightmares and hallucinations. It contains strong, but not pervasive, foul language, smoking, and suggestions of various medical/experimental drugs. The movie's surprises and twists, while somewhat transparent, might appeal to older teens, if they can stomach the strong stuff. Younger kids and teens are strongly warned away.

  • Families can talk about the movie's violent nightmares, visions, and flashbacks. How did they affect you? Did they make you feel angry, edgy, or curious? Why do you think that was? Did you notice your behavior change after the movie?
  • Talk about the methods of Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley),which include listening to and empathizing with his patients. How isthis better than treating dangerous patients with drugs and lockingthem up? Is it easier, or more difficult, to listen?
  • According to the movie, the human brain has the capacity to block out memories of horrible or tragic events. What effect would thishave? Would it make life easier, or more difficult?
  • The movie is set in 1954 and portrays a lot of era-accurate smoking? What has changed about how people think about smoking since the 1950s?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The movie deals with the limits of the human mind and the sheer amount of horror and torment it can take before it snaps. It also examines the extent to which humans are capable of violence and evil. Some characters may or may not have good intentions, but the movie deliberately blurs this behavior in the service of the story. Some conversation about belief in God.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The hero is not much of a role model. He has twin goals: One of them requires bravery and selflessness and the other, selfish revenge. But whether he achieves either of these goals is up for debate. He also exhibits violent and erratic behavior throughout and does not play well with others. (On the other hand, he does risk his life in one sequence to save his partner.) Other characters do not seem trustworthy or reliable either.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Quite a few disturbing flashbacks and nightmare sequences, with piles of dead bodies in the Dachau concentration camp, a failed suicide attempt (the victim lays twitching in a puddle of blood), drowned children, a woman's body burning, shooting victims, and more blood. One scene shows the mass slaughter of Nazi guards by American soldiers; their bodies are riddled with bullets as they collapse, one by one, in a line. There are also scary images, such as prisoners grabbing through prison bars at the hero.

  • sex false1

    Sex: No sex, but in a flashback sequence we see a little kissing between an affectionate married couple. Brief flash of unclothed male prisonors.

  • language false4

    Language: The words "f--k" is heard about a dozen times; "s--t" a few times. We also hear "dick," "prick," "cock," "screw that," "dammit," "Jesus Christ," and "Goddamn it."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters smoke cigarettes often, and one character smokes a pipe. The main character once had a drinking problem, but now abstains from liquor. We see him drinking whisky in flashbacks. Other characters drink in a social way. The hospital uses various sedatives and other kinds of drugs on the patients. The hero takes aspirins and there is a suggestion that they might be laced with hallucinogens or other drugs. We see the effects of these drugs through the eyes of the hero.