*SPOILER ALERT* This article contains a movie review of Shutter Island which will give away details which could damage the movie going experience of anyone who has not yet seen the movie.
I have always said that only watching part of a movie was akin to looking at only part of the Mona lisa. To truly understand and appreciate any movie you must watch it from beginning to end. A movie has to be extremely bad for me to not make it all the way through. The movie The Sixth Sense, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is a perfect example of why you should watch a movie to the end. The Sixth Sense, to me, was one boring movie. I struggled to make it all the way through. The ending, as we all know, made the whole boring movie worth while.
Shutter Island is very similar in that aspect. Almost from the get go I wanted to turn it off. I sat through most of the movie making expletive statements like “What the…?” and “Now that was just plain stupid” along with the oldie but goody “This movie makes no sense”. My girlfriend was annoyed with how I constantly kept making comments during the movie about how crappy it was. Granted, the acting was good and the cinematography was top notch. The director, Martin Scorsese, did a wonderful job of bringing out an atmosphere and having it be continuous throughout the movie. But the story itself…that is where I had the problem.
Here is a little background into my movie watching habits, which might help to understand my reviews a bit better. Before I watch a movie I avoid all reviews or synopsis about the movie. When I say all, I mean everything that could give me any perspective about the movie. I like to have no expectations whatsoever other than the movie previews. All of my friends and relatives know not to talk to me about a movie until after I have watched it. I do not even want to know if they thought it was good, bad, worth watching, etc., until after I have watched the movie. This keeps me from being biased to any degree and I can thoroughly enjoy my movie experience. Some of the best movies I have ever watched, what I call my five star movies, are movies that I happened to stumble upon by accident and knew absolutely nothing about before I started watching them. To me, that is the best way to watch a movie. It removes any expectations you might have going into the viewing experience.
With that being said, from watching the previews and trying to predict the outcome of Shutter Island, I had a pretty good idea that the movie was going to have a twist ending even before I started the DVD. It was billed as an unusual mystery movie. That much I knew about going into it. A great deal of the story was predictable. Even before the movie started I had predicted that the leading character, Teddy Daniels, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, was going to be the crazy one. Or at least he was going to be turned crazy by the island (this could be a side effect of watching too much Lost). I was not disappointed in that prediction and hit the nail on the head. However, I was not at all prepared for how it unfolded.
Shutter Island is one of those rare movies that requires double viewing. In order to fully appreciate the nuances and twists, you have to watch the movie at least twice. The movie is a different beast all together when viewed the second time because of the revelations gained from the first viewing. The things that did not make sense or seemed absolutely weird and out of place the first time around make total sense the second time around. Just like the movie The Sixth Sense, once you know the secret, all the pieces fall into place and everyone’s actions take on a whole new meaning. The line that will be embedded in your mind after watching Shutter Island and tied to the movie forever: “Is it better to live as a monster or die a good man?”
All in all I highly recommend watching Shutter Island. You might struggle, as I did, to make it to the end but the journey is well worth it. For the first nine tenths of the movie you will most likely not be able to wait for the film to finish but after it is over, you will not be able to wait to watch it again.