A delightfully pulpy noir that commendably commits to being a waking nightmare of a film. The setting veers near being ridiculous in the design of the asylum, the jagged cliffs, intense weather, but Scorsese and DiCaprio clearly take the story seriously, and that commitment is what makes the film really work.
Flashbacks to Dachau would be so easy to do exploitatively or as undue signifiers, but the film really engages with the atmosphere of the time – the Holocaust, nuclear annihilation looming more and more, the Cold War – and the overwhelming madness of it all is rather the point, really. It’s a much better take on Hitchcock and noir than Scorsese’s trashy remake of CAPE FEAR was. DiCaprio really embodies the character, rising to the occasion as the film leans more into psychological horror. Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley are also cast with real laser-focus on how their presences make viewers feel. The unconditional love, support, commitment some make to patients becomes rather moving, and none of that would work if the actors weren’t so specifically deployed.
A rousing noir take on McCarthyism and all the other insanities of that period of western history. Four declarations of being a US Marshal, and some provided cigarettes.