Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shutter Island Was Good Until...

*** Spoiler Alert!!!!***
***I literally give away the entire ending of Shutter Island, as well as major plots in other films such as Fight Club, Hide and Seek, The Secret Window, The Number 23, Identity, American Psycho, The Machinist etc etc***

Upon watching the film Shutter Island which was released earlier this year, I was thoroughly enjoying the visual work and acting jobs of Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, and Sir Ben Kingsley. In addition, as the plot strayed into the territory of there being a major conspiracy regarding the asylum institution and the practices going on there, it became really complex and interesting.

Eventually, at the crux of the film, I recognized that there were three different paths the plot could take for the end of the story:

1. Leo officially discovers what is really going on on Shutter Island, and must thereby escape the island to alert other federal officials. The only problem with this is figuring out if anyone wants to DO anything about the institution, or what happens to the patients after the real workings are exposed.

2. Leo gains evidence about the true workings of Shutter Island, but the authorities of the facility are in no way going to let him escape. They subsequently decide to make Leo believe that he is insane (when he really is not) or at least declare his insanity, and thereby force him to become a patient at the institution. Goings-on can therefore continue as they have been on Shutter Island, however shady they may be.

3. Leo finally discovers that he, in fact, has been insane all along and has created this fantasy world in his mind after a traumatic event in his own life, or because of an extra persona he has developed during his life and after his work in World War II.

Now... personally, I think the second option would have been the most interesting, as well as devious in nature
which would suit the overall ominous mood of this film.
But WHAT did they go with?
Oh of course, the third plot!
This is probably because of the idea that this is a really amazing "twist" for the story to take, but unfortunately, in terms of psychological thrillers, it's the MOST COMMON twist that is being used nowadays.

Don't believe me?
Think about the following movies (and my not-so-funny running narrative of them):

Fight Club - "Wait, Tyler Durden is just another personality I created?"
Hide and Seek - "You mean the man terrorizing my child is actually... ME?"
The Number 23 - "All the things that happened in this story were my own repressed, traumatic memories?"
The Secret Window - "The man who is claiming I stole his story is actually just my other, more violent side?"
Identity - "None of these other people exist, and it's really just my one personality killing all the others?"
American Psycho - "Um, did I actually commit any of these crimes or did my mind just make it up?"
The Machinist - "All this messed up stuff and my ridiculous weight-loss is just my mind repressing a traumatic memory that wants to surface itself?"

What do these movies have in common? The protagonist turns out to be (pardon the crass and politically incorrect term) "crazy" all along.
And I'm not going to lie, I REALLY enjoyed Fight Club and found it very original, but as I saw more and more "psychological thrillers" I became increasingly bored by this so-called twist at the end, simply because I had seen it so many times before.

This is the only problem I saw when watching Shutter Island. To be fair, I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless, and was surprised by the uncovering of facts regarding Michelle William's character, but I still retain the belief that there were other, possibly more interesting ways the plot could have concluded.

What does anyone else who saw this movie think? Do you like how it ended, or do you think the idea regarding conspiracy theory should have been examined further?

3 comments:

  1. well i watched it a long time ago, so i dont really remember the details too well. i just remember i was able to predict the major events of the movie. i do agree it was enjoyable, but ya, all the 'thinker' movies are basically the same.

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  2. Well sometimes they go about it in a clever or original way, but as art history might call it, due to the replication of ideas, it's becoming very "kitsch."
    (Oh no, I just related my art history class into here haha)

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  3. Yep, this plot has been done since 1920 at least, in the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, wherein the narrator who discovers all sorts of twisted magic and murder cases turns out to actually just be an insane patient telling a made up story in the end. So in that movie as well as Shutter Island, it would have been so much better to have ended similar to the 2nd proposal you make. sigh.

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