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SHUTTER ISLAND: The Twist

February 5, 2010

I haven’t seen the new Scorsese film Shutter Island. I haven’t read the script or the book it’s based on or a synopsis of the plot. I haven’t read any spoilers or seen anything besides the trailer. 

And based on the trailer, it’s so obvious how the film ends it makes me want to scream. 

I’m going to put my bet down after the jump. Spoilers, if I’m right, but I can’t be the only one who’s sorted this out. 

So the big twist at the ending is, dun-dun-DUNNNN, the detective is actually a patient at the asylum and the whole detective thing is a delusion in his crazy mind. Whatever made him crazy also has him racked with guilt, hence the “I’ll make this right” nature of the delusion.

Bonus prediction: This would mean that his partner does not exist at all, so we can expect him to disappear under disturbing and inexplicable circumstances somewhere around the midpoint.

Bonus prediction 2: The freaky woman who gives him the “Shhhhh” look is either a vision of his mother or his wife, in either case someone who went crazy before he did. Guilt has something to do with her — probably killed her, which he’s forced to admit (to himself, you see) at the climax.

We can also expect some scenes to make no sense at all upon second viewing with the “explanation” in mind. 

Scorsese can still surprise me, here, by not making that the ending of the film. Either the big reveal of the “mystery” is something else entirely, or this reveal comes somewhere near the midpoint. I have no idea where it would go from there, but that’s what makes it the more interesting possibility. 

But considering the praise Scorsese apparently gets from film enthusiasts just for blowing his nose, he could probably put out a trailer where he stared directly into the camera and told us the ending and the film would still get 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and a bunch of Oscar nominations. 

I’m not the biggest Scorsese fan to begin with, you may have gathered. This just isn’t helping.

From → filmmaking, story, writing

9 Comments
  1. Jake permalink

    I’m not a huge Scorsese fan either. I think he tends to focus more on character than plot, whereas I prefer films where the story/plot are the driving reason to see it… comedies aside, I suppose.

    In this case, I had the exact same assumption upon seeing the trailer. I thought about reading the book, but my girlfriend really wants to see the movie, so I guess I’ll just wait and see where it goes.

  2. King Kool permalink

    The only thing surprising about this movie is that Scorsese made it. It seems so trashy. (and the February release is also a giant red flag)

  3. I’m still scratching my head over Taxi Driver.

  4. haha, i’m still waiting for the firestorm of criticism you’re going to get for maligning scorsese, but it won’t be from me. never been a big fan either.

    this trailer looked so boring and bad i didn’t even bother to decipher what was going on, but i love that you did. i can’t wait to see how well they conform to what you predict. sounds like you’re right on.

  5. King Kool permalink

    Were you right?

  6. Sith-Man permalink

    “And based on the trailer, it’s so obvious how the film ends it makes me want to scream.”
    I was the same way about the movie ‘next’. While I enjoyed some parts of that movie, it pained me to watch it, partly because of Nick Cages hair, and partly because the entire thing was just a build up to the obvious.

    As far as ‘Shutter Island’ goes, I haven’t seen it, and don’t really have any plans to see it. I may grab it from a red box whenever it gets around to being in there, but that’s about it.

  7. Spoiler. Spoiler.

    Spoiler.

    Yep.

  8. I think I identify 3 points of criticism on this post:

    1 – The trailer and its structure.
    2 – The plot and/or story of “Shutter Island” and Scorsese.
    3 – The body of work of Scorsese in general.

    I have not seen this film, and I am trying to make the distinction of those 3 points to try to give the film the benefit of the doubt.

    1- The trailer
    This post touches on one of the aspects of movie making that has been “bugging” me for a while ,and that is the subject of the “Trailer”.
    Trailers instead of being a little appetizer for a movie, have turn into either complete spoilers (because in the pressure of getting our attention they give away everything) or on the other side of the spectrum flat out lies about a film in order to get us to the theater. I can recall so many times going: WTF? the trailer was so good with the score and pace and the movie turn out to be such a dud ??
    The irony is that while fully believing the above I do love watching trailers, but now I take them with a grain of salt and sometimes I even think of them as separate products than the films they promote as absurd as this may sound.
    I also felt annoyed at this trailer for giving away so much but still I hope the film can provide a good ride.
    Case in point, if I were to ask you to see your favorite film one more time, you will probably will say yes, even though you know all the story, script and even behind the scene facts.
    Good movies will give you a good ride ,no matter how much you know about them.

    2 – The plot and/or story of “Shutter Island” and the director.

    I find the story to be really interesting from the point of view of a writer. It is original and I am now interested in the book.
    However Scorsese had “nothing” to do with it as he did not write the novel nor the screenplay.
    So while the film still is his vision ,this one does not have imprinted his DNA as Goodfellas, Casino or Mean Streets do.
    In short all the prise or annoyance at the plot should not fall on Scorsese’s shoulder I think.

    3 – The body of work of Scorsese in general.

    I have mixed feelings about the material that he produces. While having good moments ,I am not impressed at the graphic violence he resorts to more often than not (to the point that you kind of expect it).
    That said at least he does not fall for the fashion of the moment in the sense you never hear that he might direct “TRANSFORMERS 4 – FALL OF THE PREVIOUSLY RISEN” and that I respect.

    -In conclusion: While I believe you are spot on ,I might actually go see it. I mean I have to pick between “From Paris With Love” , “The Tooth Fairy” or this one. Not a hard choice ,don’t you agree?

  9. Ok. I saw this film a week ago and finally I got around posting about it here. NO more BIG spoilers than the ones above.
    Might be a couple of weeks late and most of you probably saw it already and for those who did not I have to recommend.
    This not intended to be a review but a couple of drive by impressions for you to give it a chance.
    I “enjoyed” this film. Quotation marks only because the subject matter is not a happy one (criminally insane people) and there is no happy ending in sight at any point ..(I would not advise to go with girlfriend/wife or significant other, as there are a couple of greek tragedies involving otherwise loving family members and will not produce any romantic or loving atmosphere)
    This does not feel like an Scorsese movie, there are no gangs or mafia or italian american characters (nothing against I am half italian), there is no De Niro, and the only connection may be perhaps Di Caprio.
    Lets get this one out of the way: The protagonist is a patient but not all is a delusion of his mind. This is a particular patient with military training, so his marshall persona and detective skills are very much real and part of his real personality.
    Our protagonist is 1/4 Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon),1/4 John Rambo (First Blood),1/4 Leonard (Memento), 1/4 Jason Bourne (Bourne Series), all rolled into one.
    That is what makes him dangerous, he is a clean cut highly trained fully socially functioning insane individual.
    Crazy people is more dangerous when appearing normal and makes you wonder how many are there outside right now like this one:
    http://wiki.ocregister.com/Orange_County/People/Rodney_James_Alcala
    (Rodney Alcala is facing trial again for horrible crimes but notice the last part of his profile states that the guy has nearly genius IQ. Now that is really scary).

    Back to the movie: the performances are solid and on the mark and maybe the most satisfying part is that there is no need for a cartoon stereotypical villain with idiotic motives (like in Avatar) as an antagonist, because frankly our protagonist has enough with his own mind, tormented past and eerie memories. So this frees our “antagonists” to engage in witty, sarcastic, poignant verbal exchanges with the main character, knowing that his weaknesses are inside his own head.
    I spotted no big holes in the plot, and as a matter of fact I do not think that upon second viewing you will find “non sense” scenes but on the contrary many characters make more sense when things get revealed.
    If find the film to be great for screenwriters and actors as the setting takes place in an asylum so there is room for quirky over the top characters and situations.
    There is even a couple of humorous bits when you least expect them and one last twist at the very end that delivers a last punch to the gut.
    Will not rank among your top 10, but deserves a viewing, and as a bonus there are even a couple of VFX shots worth taking a look at.
    Thumbs up.

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