These may be the only 2010 movies I have seen this year. Even if that is not true they are easily the best of the year so far. I am not too sure what else I have to say about Edge of Darkness beyond what I had said in the previous Cagematch. This is an easy fight to adjudicate: Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese: Goodfellas) wins. Easily.
Based upon the trailers and how it was pushed I was expecting Shutter Island to be a horror film.However, being a Scorsese film made me doubt this was correct. And sure enough, it is not a horror film. The moment of the trailer that seemed terror-izing was not in the actual film. I always have high expectations for a Scorsese film and my expectations would have been higher had I known this was not a horror film. This movie, however, does not live up to my expectations. It was gorgeous to watch and the story was engaging. However, it was not as smart as I thought it would be.
Quai-spoilers below. I will give away enough that it can change a first viewing of the movie but I will not disclose enough that it ruins it. I hope.
The first problem I had with Shutter Island was its simplicity. I knew during the opening scene what the story was, the rest of the film was merely filling in the arc with details. I may have been alone though, as I heard the audience gasp when the reveal happened. For anyone that has followed Hitchcock and De Palma this movie was too easy to decode. This is not a fatal problem, as I doubt a non-cinaphile will decode it as quickly as I did.
The second problem, and a fairly catastrophic error, is that the fantasy of the movie is too close to the reality of the movie. These fantasies are constructed to keep the subject safe from the reality, so it makes no sense that the fantasy would be close enough to reality that it can unravel. This distinction is the brilliance that Lynch brings to filmmaking. It is this distinction that also makes Lynch so difficult to watch as the movies are almost too disjointed to cohere. This error of Scorsese’s is almost forgivable, except that he acknowledges this error in the movie. There is a second fantasy at work and it never comes close enough to the reality to unravel. Why aren’t the characters in the movie smart enough to recognize this difference between these fantasies?
There is a sweet twist at the very end of Shutter Island, however. My favorite character in The Matrix is Tank because of the honest and difficult decision he makes about his subjectivity. This final wrinkle in Shutter Island was well done, even if it was done with a wink.