Repeated Viewings Mandatory
I originally wanted to take it easy this Saturday and failed miserably. I started the day off by seeing Shutter Island at the theater two miles from my apartment; it’s an awfully convenient jaunt down the road, and I actually woke up early enough to catch the first matinee. One thing I can say about this film, was that it actually had me second-guessing myself for its entirety.
Another thing I can claim, is that I actually enjoyed the process. My first theory was of course completely wrong, but every subsequent revision was equally invalid, and worse, sometimes completely backwards from the eventual conclusion to the plot. Even more disparaging to my deductive prowess, was that it was so obvious in retrospect I actually face-palmed as the final scene played out. It’s quite a feat to demand the audience’s attention, another to present obvious clues, and quite another still to correctly disregard their analytical prowess. The clues are there, but so clearly stacked in favor of the protagonist, you can’t help but ignore or mis-attribute them.
The strangest thing, I think, is the bland overused characters are part of the conspiracy to misdirect. It’s clearly a noir crime thriller. A detective has come to an insane asylum to find the whereabouts of an escaped patient, having been drawn there by an underlying wariness of some larger wrongdoing by the doctors there, one of which is revealed as a German who coincidentally shares a taste in musical composers with a former commander at Dachau. Our man Teddy and his suspicions are confirmed at every turn, and some only make him outright belligerent at the apparent disregard the doctors have for his investigation. And now he’s stuck there, after being lured by highly-placed men and women who want to end his dangerous questions. They can’t have a detective poking around their secret experiments in the human mind.
What I found most revealing about the final scene, was that it completely changes the entirety of the movie, and proves to me just how skilled these actors are. It’s all a matter of perspective, and I would not turn down another opportunity to see this movie, if only to watch it again from a different vantage point. I can’t even say why, because even the tiniest hint would be a massive spoiler. But I can tell you this isn’t the first movie to use misdirection as a plot element. I fully endorse this film, and while I can’t personally guarantee everyone will enjoy it as much as I did, I can strongly advocate putting it on your to-do list.