DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
Dennis Lehane seems to be the type of author whose stories seem automatically suitable for the big screen. I've read most of his novels and they all have a pleasant narrative flow and often interesting subjects.
Shutter Island is one of those classic cases that just works better as a novel than as a film. This type of psychological mystery is best experienced when you can delve into the protagonist's mind and completely share his thoughts, memories and possible delusions.
Scorcese does an admirable job of creating a sense of mystery and exposing it slowly to keep us interested. Which surprised me, really, as I didn't really have faith in the transition of this story to film, putting off watching it because of it.
This is not a bad film. It is, after all, fuelled by the creative powers of one of cinema's masters. It has a fine cast, with a servicable performance by DiCaprio and a fantastic one by Ruffalo.
And still it didn't work for me. As I already knew the story, it felt more like a rewatch than anything else. Scorcese drops a fair amount of hints to help you figure out what is going on, hints you don't get in the book. And I guess that's the crux of the problem. In the novel you have to piece together the puzzle, in the film you're lead by the hand towards a forgone conclusion.
Still, it is a solid film that is very well made and has some stunning set pieces. Too bad the plot doesn't follow suit.