Shutter Island

Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo | R |

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REVIEWED BY LIZA HAMM

THRILLER

Martin Scorsese's latest thriller starts out as an over-the-top melodrama about the mysterious disappearance of a female patient at a hospital for the criminally insane. But then a beautiful, freaky dream sequence featuring Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio), the U.S. marshal investigating the case, and his dead wife (Williams) turns the movie into something weirder, deeper and much more entertaining. (As one of the nurses aptly explains, normal isn't a big part of anyone's day at an insane asylum.) There's much to enjoy here while trying to figure out Daniels' ulterior motive for coming to the asylum, which sits menacingly on a craggy island off Massachusetts. You get bestselling author Dennis Lehane's flair for pulpy storytelling (Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone) combined with Scorsese's inspired casting and fascination with evil. There's even a little Hitchcockian suspense thrown into the mix. (No worries, squeamish ones: It's more disturbing and creepy than flat-out scary.) It's not exactly the kind of island getaway that brightens the dark slush of winter, but it's worth the trip.

The Ghost Writer

Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall | PG-13 |

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THRILLER

It's tough to top director Roman Polanski's real-life drama—he finished this film under house arrest. The thriller is too long but offers some unpredictable twists, as a writer (McGregor) hired to finish the autobiography of a former British prime minister (Brosnan) discovers dangerous secrets. A fun bonus: Cattrall's spot-on British accent.

>Leo's? Ovah the top. An expat rates other tries:

BEN AFFLECK AND MATT DAMON IN GOOD WILL HUNTING

The gold standahd. The Cambridge, Mass., natives did us proud.

JACK NICHOLSON IN THE DEPARTED

Close, but no cigah. In his turn as a Southie Mob boss, Jack's accent was kinda like a cuppa bad chowdah.

JIMMY FALLON IN FEVER PITCH

Wicked bad. But as a Sox fan torn over a gal (Drew Barrymore) and a game, he stole hearts.

>• In Valentine's Day, Roberts appears with her niece Emma and her sister Lisa.

Among the starry cast of the romantic comedy: the Roberts women (though they don't share any scenes). "I definitely admire her career path," Emma says of her aunt. "She's amazing."

>Tortured romances! Surprise illnesses! Sand! The hit Dear John hews to author Nicholas Sparks' tear-jerking formula.

Paul (Richard Gere) is forced to leave his love (Diane Lane) when he flies to South America to heal his relationship with his son.

Hanky rating: 3 (sniffling)

Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) are forced apart by disapproving parents—and later, Alzheimer's.

Hanky rating: 5 (sobbing)

John (Channing Tatum) is forced to leave his sweetheart (Amanda Seyfried) when his army stint is extended after 9/11.

Hanky rating: 3 (misting)

Rebellious teen Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) is forced to reconsider her summer love when . . . Find out when this opens March 31.

Hanky rating: 4 (weeping)

>Leo's? Ovah the top. An expat rates other tries:

BEN AFFLECK AND MATT DAMON IN GOOD WILL HUNTING

The gold standahd. The Cambridge, Mass., natives did us proud.

JACK NICHOLSON IN THE DEPARTED

Close, but no cigah. In his turn as a Southie Mob boss, Jack's accent was kinda like a cuppa bad chowdah.

JIMMY FALLON IN FEVER PITCH

Wicked bad. But as a Sox fan torn over a gal (Drew Barrymore) and a game, he stole hearts.

>• In Valentine's Day, Roberts appears with her niece Emma and her sister Lisa.

Among the starry cast of the romantic comedy: the Roberts women (though they don't share any scenes). "I definitely admire her career path," Emma says of her aunt. "She's amazing."

>Tortured romances! Surprise illnesses! Sand! The hit Dear John hews to author Nicholas Sparks' tear-jerking formula.

Paul (Richard Gere) is forced to leave his love (Diane Lane) when he flies to South America to heal his relationship with his son.

Hanky rating: 3 (sniffling)

Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) are forced apart by disapproving parents—and later, Alzheimer's.

Hanky rating: 5 (sobbing)

John (Channing Tatum) is forced to leave his sweetheart (Amanda Seyfried) when his army stint is extended after 9/11.

Hanky rating: 3 (misting)

Rebellious teen Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) is forced to reconsider her summer love when . . . Find out when this opens March 31.

Hanky rating: 4 (weeping)