memento_mori - wrote on 07/26/13
I could go on about the hidden brilliance of this masterpiece for hours.
Scorsese is so unpredictable. I respect him for his risky changes of style and exploration of various genres. With Shutter Island he has delivered (in my humble opinion) a smart, delicate, philosophical and dramatic feature, which I consider one of his greatest films.
The Academy must have something against Leonardo DiCaprio, because he is snubbed every frigging performance he brings to the screen. This is by far the most fragile, haunting and dramatic performance of his career and he makes the entire movie for me. His character would be nothing without him.
From the moment that ship appeared through the gentile mist, I was hooked. I loved its use of lighting, its ominous location, its creepy characters and its question of sanity.
The film very much feels like a movie made by an insane person. It is held-back and straightforward on the surface, but is bursting fireworks at its core.
With repeat viewings, you really get to delve into the island of Ashcliffe and when you invest yourself into the environment, you understand what it is trying to show you. The whole movie is almost like a magic trick. Like The Prestige. It knows you want to be amazed. You don't want to look closer. You want to be fooled. And with the little hints and Easter eggs this movie leaves you, it succeeds admirably.
From this point I will be discussing the (brilliant) controversial ending, so I forewarn you now. Continue reading at your own risk of spoilers.
The film ends as Teddy Daniels is told what he thought was reality was actually an illusion of his consciousness he created, because he could not handle with the fact that he killed his wife who murdered his children. The doctors let him live out his illusion in an attempt of aversion therapy.
He shows signs that he has recovered and knows that he is Andrew Laeddis.
But on the steps of the hospital he calls his doctor Chuck, the doctor believes he is still living an illusion and sends him off to be lobotomized in the light tower.
Many people ranted on this ending, calling it cheap and a cop-out, nothing original or inventive.
I think it's perfect and there's one thing that makes it brilliant.
Just before he is sent off by 'Chuck', he asks him quietly: What would be worse? To live as a monster or to die as a good man?
That. Line. Was. Perfect.
It tells us so much about DiCaprio's new character. He understands he has a ruined life full of trauma, so he pretends to still be sick in an attempt to be lobotomized and forget his worries forever. Perfect.
I think what was so sad, was that it was completely misunderstood and audiences thought he still was crazy. The poor screenwriter; he just couldn't make it that little bit more clear.
But don't forget, it's the last line of the movie. It has great significance.
Is there anything else to say, really? This movie at its core is brilliant and completely misunderstood by polarized audiences. I'm no critic and I still understood it, so I wonder what happened there.