Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Read the Book/See the Movie: Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane (audio)


Many bloggers have told me Lehane's best work was Mystic River. I've not read this book yet, but that is soon to be remedied. I did read The Given Day in January, and it was solid, albeit a few discs too long. But with the movie Shutter Island on the horizon, a Scorcese film no less, I was compelled to give this one a shot. Perfect for the Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge, yes?

I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into. Holy crap.

U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels, with his partner Chuck, have been summoned to Aschecliffe Hospital, home to the most dangerous, criminally insane, located on isolated Shutter Island. Apparently, a psychotic patient named Rachel Solando has escaped and cannot be found. While the marshall's flounder in their investigation, running into roadblocks, secretive and unhelpful hospital personnel, and more questions than answers, we begin to get some history on Teddy. The man is seriously, emotionally damaged as a result of recently losing his wife tragically and from his experiences in WWII. He has dreams that take on significance, he hears his dead wife counseling him, he questions the existence of a God that allowed the Holocaust to occur.

And this is where I must stop. Telling you any more makes no sense. The further you get into the novel, the more you begin to live in Teddy's skin. You feel his doubts, his anguish, his confusion and desperation. There are smoke and mirrors. You begin to question everything. What is real? What is an illusion? Are you losing your mind? Is this a setup? Teddy has no clue, and you won't either. The book ends with a climax like I have never seen before. It is a total mindf**k.

I can't speak for the printed version, but the audio was beyond powerful. And when this climax occurs, about halfway through the last disc, prepare yourself. I can't remember EVER having a reaction quite as...physiological...emotional...as this one. I stumbled off my elliptical trainer, and shaking, had to sit on the floor for awhile. I will even go out on a limb here, and double-dog dare you to listen to this audio and not have a intense reaction. I promise you, it will bring you to your knees.

This audio would not be what it is without the narrator Tom Stechschulte. While he has acting creds, he has also narrated McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and The Road, Ellroy's The Black Dahlia, and O'Brien's The Things They Carried. His voice is raw, rough and emotive, perfectly suited for the genre with which he is affiliated.

Knowing now, in advance, the twists (but with just as many questions as ever), how will the movie hold up? If I would have read a book version of The Sixth Sense, would the movie have made the same mind-blowing impact on me?

Additional note: After this book had its way with me, I mentioned it to one of my book club buddies, and we agreed this HAD to be the next book club selection, in which we would read the book, then reunite to see the movie together, then discuss the whole mess over drinks!

*******



The book club members were all extremely excited to see the movie. We all grabbed hotdogs, popcorn and beer, and nestled in for a wild ride. Overall, the movie stayed fairly true to the book, up until the last sentence, but more on that in a minute. I felt there was perhaps more attention given to Teddy's emotional baggage with WWII, and less attention given to his relationship with his wife. Also, knowing the plot, its twists and turns, it was interesting how we easily spotted non-verbal cues that hinted that things weren't as they seemed. The climax (the one that forced me off my elliptical trainer) was just as impactful as on audio. My friend next to me cried. It made me nauseous. It was as visually disturbing as a scene could be.

But here is the deal guys. Mr. Scorcese or his screenwriter, or whoever, added one sentence to the end of the movie (that was NOT in the book) that completely changed the meaning and tone of the ending. I sat up in my theater seat and exploded "WHAT??". I couldn't believe it. Do I think that the edited ending added to the plot? Yes! Still, how dare they? I think I was the most insulted of the group...the others didn't get quite so passionate over it.

I thought all of the actors were well-cast. No complaints there. I used to sneer at DiCaprio, and thought him a twerp. I suppose he has proven himself enough times recently that I can now take him seriously.

Had I not read the book, I think I would have been a little confused throughout the movie. While the twists were not a surprise, we had the benefit of the back story, which really enhanced our viewing experience. The entire book club did feel, at the end of the day, that the book was better than the movie.

Book: 5 out 5 stars

Movie: 4 out 5 stars


34 comments:

Alice Teh said...

I LOVED the book and I'm still waiting for the movie to show here. I'm getting really anxious... Glad you enjoyed both, Sandy!

Nymeth said...

This book sounds a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I do love a good twist and an emotionally intense read. And I need to try different things more often, so to the wishlist it goes.

farmlanebooks said...

I still haven't read a LeHane, but I'm going to have to put one to the top of my TBR pile. He sounds like a fantastic author!

JoAnn said...

Wow Sandy... I may not be up to this one, but I am so intrigued!! I almost listened to The Given Day last year, but audible wanted 2 credits for it. Still, I need to read one of Lehane's books. Oh, and I hate when a movie has a different ending!

Book Dilettante said...

Thanks for the great review. Will have to pick this one up. Here's my teaser

caite said...

the movie has had sort of mixed reviews I think, so not sure if I will see it. But changing that last sentence thing...that just seems wrong.

Actually, I was not aware it was based on a book. I think that sounds like a better route. I mean..5 out of 5! Although I can't do the audio, as I have stated before.

Molly said...

Oh man - I was going to do this kind of double review later this week, but I think I will now just readers over to this fantastic post!

I actually saw the movie first - but my friend had read the book and made the same comment about the last line. That inspired to read the book immediately. I am about half way through and so far, I can "see" the movie playing in my mind as I read Lehane's words.

bermudaonion said...

Vance and I were going to go see the movie when he was home for spring break, but we both ended up sick and didn't get to. Maybe I can talk Carl into it.

Andreea said...

I have heard about this book but I didn't know about the movie. Thanks for this great review. I am so glad that you enjoyed it!

Julie P. said...

I remember being blown away by this book too! I don't know if I'm up to seeing the movie!

C.B. James said...

Terrific review. I chuckled several times reading it and now I want to "read" the book and see the movie both. That's a great review.

This sounds like a fun summer project to me....

S. Krishna said...

I definitely want to read this book, and your review has only reinforced that opinion! I'm not good with freaky movies, so I might not see the movie - I'll see how much the book scares me first!

LizF said...

Interesting post. I am a big fan of Dennis Lehane and have read a lot of his books but not Shutter Island - yet anyway!
I can't get on with audio books I'm afraid, they just don't work for me in the same way as print but i am assuming that I will get the same effect from the printed page - the last book that stopped me in my tracks was The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas and before that My Sister's Keeper after which I sat and cried for 30 minutes non stop! I am now torn as to whether to go and see the film first and then read the book or do it the other way round.
BTW I love the picture of the white cat at the top of your blog - he/she reminds me of my much missed first two cats Domino and Dixie who were a pure white brother and sister and the reason why I cannot live without felines.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Wow, sounds so good! If I see the movie I'll keep in mind to pretend the last sentence doesn't happen!

Avid Reader said...

I loved the book too. Totally took me by surprised. I went on to read everything else by Lehane because I really loved his writing style. I haven't seen the movie yet, because I'm always worried I'll hate it in comparison. Thanks for the great review of both!

Ti said...

I love you. Can I just say that? You always, ALWAYS make me laugh. A mind***k? I'm so there.

I remember The Book Lady raving about this book over a year ago. I never did get around to it but I like the audio idea better. I need something good to listen to during my commute.

I haven't seen the movie yet but I agree, Di Cap is sort of twerpy but he has proven himself over and over again but I keep thinking of him on that sinking ship.

Lenore said...

That's a fun idea for book club! Will have to suggest it. We are meeting again on Thursday.

Melody said...

I picked up this book yesterday!! I've to read it soon after reading your review, and of course I'll have to watch the movie once it is released here!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

How fun that your book group did the book/movie discussion (and hot dogs and beer in the theater ... Lux seats?)

I haven't read the book, but based on your "holy crap!", I'll be adding it to my wish list.

Jenners said...

They serve beer in your theaters? Hmmm.

Well, I read this book but I cannot remember any details at all. I think I need to read it again ... or at least see the movie to see if this reminds me what happened. How can this be????

ds said...

Oh, boy! If a book sends you into a corner shaking... I know I need to read Lehane, but think I'll start with something less intense (like Mystic River--ha!). It is awful when directors/screenwriters change the entire tone of a book for the movie. Ten stars for this review, Sandy. Truly outstanding!

Penelope said...

My TBR pile has not gotten taller! Thanks!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I'm definitely putting this one on my list! Great review!

Zibilee said...

I am so insanely excited about reading this book and seeing the movie. I have heard that it is really intense and trippy, but your review makes me want to stop right in the middle of the book I am reading right now and get to it! I have a few more books that I have to finish for review first, but I am going to be getting to this one very soon! Great review, it sounds like an incredible story!

Kathleen said...

I have to read or listen to this book...I can't back down from a double-dog dare!!

Anna said...

Okay, you've convinced me that I have to read this book at some point. I haven't read anything by this author yet, but I bought Mystic River ages ago and sadly it sits unread. I'll definitely be sure to read the book before seeing the movie.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

I like the comparison. I want to read the book and see the movie...I think this would be a great pairing because I want to see what made you sit up in your seat and say "WHAT?!"

The Bumbles said...

I think you can treat Leo as a real actor - and a good one at that:
-What's Eating Gilbert Grape
-Gangs of New York
-Catch Me If You Can
-The Departed
-Blood Diamond

I even enjoyed Titanic.

I'll probably just watch the movie on this one because I'm lazy and trust your ratings.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Wow. You've convinced me. I loved his earlier works and now I'll HAVE to read this one. ;)

Trisha said...

I decided, for what is unclear to me know, to watch the movie before reading the book. I adored the film, so I'm interested to see how I like the book.

Literary Feline said...

Thank you for your great reviews of both the movie and the book, Sandy. I still haven't managed to read Shutter Island despite my best laid plans to do so in order to see the movie in the theater. Now both are on hold for the time being and I'll have to catch the movie on DVD.

Isn't it amazing how one sentence can change everything? I definitely will pay attention to the ending of both now that you mention it.

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