This is Jeff Bayer, and I don't update this site very often. If you'd like to listen to my current movie podcast you can find it at MovieBS.com.

He Said - She Said ... Shutter Island

Once again it's time for another installment of He Said/She Said. This time, we're doing Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio. As always, if you don't want to read about plot spoilers, leave now. We won't be offended. Bayer's TSR - 9/10 Bayer's "Keep it Local" video review

He Said (Nick Allen)

Scripts can really cherish a very good twist, especially when it can pull an immediate u-turn on its audience and have them re-evaluating all of the steps before the big surprise. Shutter Island is a film that relies wholeheartedly, 100% on the effect of its twist, and puts two hours of build-up on the line for its shocking twist. It even sacrifices bits of its pacing to put all of its pieces into place.

However, all of this being said, I must admit that you and I have not seen the same movie. It’s the same title of course, same director, but the story is different. I went into Shutter Island having read the book years ago, and having not forgotten most of the surprises the film had in store. Luckily, I didn’t remember everything, so there was still a shock or two to kick in. But once certain names and characters were introduced, the thrill of Shutter Island became consistently minimal. I had little hope (and rightfully so) that the screenwriter would dare tool around with the critically acclaimed groundwork that author Dennis Lehane had done with his novel.

Since you did not read the book beforehand, how did the twists work for you? Were you surprised at the right time? Did you catch on to the Laeddis twist, or the even the psychiatrist twist? And overall, yes, since you had the opportunity to let the movie at least attempt to pull you back and forth, did you enjoy it overall?

She Said (Morrow McLaughlin)

Actually, I did read the book and I read it only a few weeks ago, so it's nice and fresh in my mind. My thinking went a little somfin' like this: if I know the story ahead of time, I can just sit back and enjoy the artistry. I can juxtapose film versus book, weigh the differences and appreciate the translation from word to screen. This was a pretty serious mistake on my part, because it took all the oomph out of the story. It's still damned good, but I definitely ruined it for myself. If I could have planned it better I would have seen the movie before I read the book, so I feel like I cheated myself out of the depth of sinister and scary. I would still whole-heartedly recommend both the movie and the book, but I might just nudge someone toward the film first.

With regards to sacrificed pacing: I couldn't disagree with you more if I squeezed my eyes shut and strained and strained. I thought the pacing was excellent, superb. Only once did I feel like the movie rushed through a sequence of events that were portrayed more patiently in the book and that's really saying something. Normally, I feel like the screenwriter ran the original story through a shredder and then pieced it back together willy-nilly, but Shutter Island is a fantastic representation of its printed roots. The only way I could be happier about this movie is if I didn't know so much going in--damn. Damn, damn, damn. Such a bummer.

He Said (Allen)

Damn. I won't point any fingers as to what caused this confusion, but I will point out a scenario that "sacrificed pacing" - the talk with the warden, after Teddy is picked up from his little outdoors adventure. It was a smirking scene, with the warden making various hints at "the truth," but I remember feeling it was a bit tedious. Overall, I found that some scenes really outshone others when it came to tension or just overall. As great as Jackie Earle Haley has been in the past, I didn't really go ga-ga for him playing another wacko this time.

There were some scenes I really loved, and most of them were dream sequences. They were shot with absolute beauty - it was refreshing to know that Scorsese's still got it. My favorite moment might be the "ashes falling from ceiling" vision, or the horrifying events that took place at Dachau.

What did you think of DiCaprio in this film? I thought it was a good role for him, but that's because it required a lot of anger and screaming (Body of Lies, The Departed, bits of Revolutionary Road). I wasn't entirely impressed with his work in this movie for that reason, but Scorsese's supporting direction, (not to mention the music, oh how SPECTACULAR the music was!!!) kept me from disagreeing much with his performance.

He Said (Jeff Bayer)

What the? Who said what? OK, it's time for me to interrupt. That's right, it's the first ever He Said/She Said/He Said in recorded history. First, I thought only one of you had read this book. I didn't realize both of you did. My bad. Listening to both of you "wish" you liked this film more than you did is just too much to handle. I loved the pacing. I loved the ending. I loved DiCaprio. It was all great. I can't wait to see this movie again. That just goes to show that reading books is for suckers. That's all there is to it.

The only time I was a little confused or annoyed by the twists and turns was when Haley showed up. So I can give you that one Nick. But calling out DiCaprio's performance? For shame. You're upset because he was upset? Wrinkling up his face is one of DiCaprio's best moves as an actor, and this role called for plenty of it.

Here's what I am interested in ... I can't wait to see this film again for obvious reasons with the ending. Do you guys feel exhausted by this film? Like you've already seen it a couple times now because you read the book? I could see that being a problem.

Also, I've never read a thriller with a significant twist ending, and then seen the movie. It sounds like an awful idea (if you want to potentially love the film). Is that a good call?

She Said (McLaughlin)

Sorry J--totally forgot that Nick and I are identical twins. I'll be more careful to differentiate for you, since apparently it isn't enough to have Nick referring to me as Morrow and vice versa (patronizing--patronizing about patronizing--high-five).

Okay, so normally it's more interesting to read the book before you see the movie, although now that I'm writing this I can't think of any good reasons WHY. For the most part, you're going to hate the movie for what it did to the book and get all uber critical, but sometimes it is an improved experience. Like, for example, reading the Harry Potter books before the movie only enhances the experience. Plus, I'd like to be a published author someday and I'd have to chop my tongue right out of my mouth if I ever suggested just skipping the book for the movie, because the movie's easier...not so many big words 'n stuff.

So here's the big except...EXCEPT reading Shutter Island before seeing the movie meant they almost canceled each other out in my mind. The book is amazing, the movie is amazing, it's all amazing--but when you go in with the story well in-hand, all the freshness is ground right out of it. I can appreciate that the movie did a phenomenal job, but I can't reclaim the lost enthusiasm, because I didn't get to indulge in the surprises. This makes me very sad; I've been looking forward to the movie for a long time, now.

One thing I have to mention: the movie was very faithful to the book except for with Chuck's character. In the book, Chuck was so charming and funny and amiable and in the movie he's reduced to looking cow-eyed and calling Leo "Boss" all the time. Really, that would be my only complaint.

You know...not to sound skeevy but...there's something distinctly menage a trois about this whole situation. I'm the babe filling in a ranty critic sandwich.

He Said (Allen)

Maybe Morrow and I are twins (which makes this menage a critic incestual, eww) because we have the exact same mindset when it comes to book or movie. If you're reading this He Said/She Said/He Said ("They Said"?) then you have probably chosen one or the other. They both work as a whole, but the visuals of Scorsese couldn't be 100% by any writer, and the twist seemed to be delivered at the exact right speed in the book by Lehane.

At the end of the day, this is a very satisfying adaptation, and yes, a breath of fresh air in a season where movies like Shutter Island stick out because they're good. If I had the ability, I'd defy the rules and give this movie a 7.5, but now I probably just sound like I don't have "all my donuts in a box of dozen."

But, "screw yah sense of cahlm." Got to love Leo's Boston accent!

He Said (Bayer)

The twist? We're all the same person. Allen, McLaughlin, Bayer ... we're one. Kidding. Seriously. Kidding. See, for anyone complaining about the twist with Teddy killing his wife because she killed their kids, and him being a patient on the island for a couple of years, there could have been a much worse ending. The island could have been all in Teddy's head. "Lost," that better not be the big twist with your final season.

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