>There is an element of Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island that I barely touched on in my review, but which I believe needs to be briefly addressed at (slightly) greater length: the ending. I'm going to assiduously avoid spoilers in this post, but I would like to invite anyone who knows the film, or Dennis Lehane's novel, to let 'er rip in the comments, should they so desire, so anyone unfamiliar with either version of the story should be warned that the comments section here could turn into a hotbed of storytelling ruination. A hotbed, I tell you.
The truth is that I believe many people will outright hate the ending. And the further truth, as I implied in my review, is that when reading the novel, I was quite disappointed at the conclusion. I thought, in a sense, that I'd been jerked around. But the film has me reconsidering my harsh judgment of said ending, and most of this is due to the fact that Scorsese foregrounds an aspect of the story in a way that, to people who know nothing about where the story's heading, will make the ending predictable, even a foregone conclusion...intentionally so, perhaps. Okay, I have no way of knowing quite how predictable the film's climax -- the solution to the mystery -- will be to people who don't know the novel. However, it seemed to me that, experiencing the ending as the final moments of a, I believe, masterfully constructed film, the ending, specifically the solution to a complex mystery, has been backgrounded a bit. It's pretty much the exact same ending as the novel (with one interesting jolt to it), but it didn't seem like Scorsese cared about it functioning as a "twist". I think he'd be perfectly happy if everyone predicted what was coming early on, and just wanted to see how the story and visuals built to it. Scorsese has said in the past that while he loves well-plotted films, as a moviegoer, as a director he doesn't have much sense on how to make them. I think he sells himself short a bit in that sense, but clearly his primary interest lies elsewhere. And I think it's hard to argue that his interest lay elsewhere when putting Shutter Island together -- every frame of the film practically shrieks that fact.
All of which, I acknowledge, sounds very much like an attempt to make excuses for what could be regarded as a big flaw in the film. But I wonder, if you do not pick up on Scorsese's clues -- which I think are quite blatant -- and find yourself as bugged by Scorsese's Shutter Island as I was when I first read Lehane's novel, what your reaction would be when and if you revisit the film at a later date. If, in other words, you go in experiencing the film as work of visual art, and not as an unfolding narrative. And by the way, I'm all about experiencing films as an unfolding narrative -- it's one of the main reasons I watch them -- but I also know full well what a given film's greater power can be in the long run. If narrative was all films were about, then very few films would have any rewatch value, and we all know that an overwhelming number of them do. So what I'm arguing for here is Shutter Island's rewatch value, something even I can't gauge, and I loved it the first time around.
But those of you who've seen it, ignorant of where it was heading...how did the ending strike you? Did you think, as I do, that Scorsese was relentlessly and deliberately signalling his intentions almost from the start, so that the ending was not quite the left turn that other takes on the story might have been, but entirely of a piece with the intense imagery that preceded it?