"This place makes me wonder, which would be worse? To live as a monster or to die as a good man?"
It was just another day where an afternoon of nothing to do brought me to Netflix, I had a backlog of movies on my list that I had to work my way through, and I settled for this one. It didn’t look too interesting at first, seeing the poster and actors for it I thought it would be just another average run of the mill mystery thriller. It sure did start off that way, but as the movie went on I started to feel a little uneasy. There were a lot of strange things I noticed, I felt like I was missing something, like there is a crucial detail just hiding beyond the corner. I’m not usually a person that gets scared when watching movies, but something about this one just freaks me out a little. Every discovery just leads to more questions, I’ll just have to keep watching and find out how it ends. And it truly does deliver on the third act, the conclusion to this story had a plot twist that was so shocking and unexpected, and yet it made perfect sense in retrospect. It truly blindsided me and it left me thinking about the movie even hours after I finished it.
I won’t tell you the specific plot points, since it’s a story that’s best experienced fresh. But as an introduction, for all of this movie we follow our protagonist Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshal sent to a remote island that holds an insane asylum facility for dangerous patients. He was called there because there was a breakout, one of the patients disappeared from the facility and hasn’t been found. And his job was to help the asylum’s staff find the missing patient. As movie setups go, this is a pretty standard mystery/thriller beginning, and that’s what caught me so off guard by the ending.
It is a movie that genuinely changes on consecutive viewings, it’s almost like you’re watching an entirely different movie. You start to notice little details that you would just ignore the first time you watched it. But once you understand what’s going on, your whole perspective changes and you’ll wonder how you could have missed such a thing in the first place. It was only after I finished my viewing that I realized that this movie was directed by the legendary filmmaker Martin Scorcese, and that honestly explained a lot. I also thought that Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance was sublime, nuanced and layered. I don’t know how he didn’t win an Oscar for this movie, it’s more deep and mind-boggling than Inception, funnily enough.
Shutter Island deals with heavy themes in subtle and deep ways; things such as mental health, trauma, grief, identity and the tragic nature of truth and lies. We as human beings are capable of believing anything as long as we want it to be true. Despite all the evidence proving the contrary being laid before our eyes, we hold on to our beliefs as tight as we can, because without them, what are we left with?