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Film Reviews The Departed, finally a departure from mediocre cinema Film News And Views - Film Reviews - The Departed, finally a departure from mediocre cinema Film Reviews,,The Departed,finally a departure from mediocre cinema,recommendation,shopping,advice,simple,movies,films,film news and views,news and views,film industy,movie reviews,film news,film,news,views,television,made for tv movies,interactive entertainment,hollywood,hollywood news,celebrity news,insiders perspective,film reviewer,watch film,film trailer,new releases,new release,new release movie,new release film,movie reviewer,opinion,viewpoint,forum,discussion
The Departed, finally a departure from mediocre cinema

by Laura Sweeney on Oct 15, 2006

Martin Scorsese’s, The Departed is the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a film about big ideas: brotherhood, loyalty, and the difference between right and wrong.  This epic film is like an Irish version of the Godfather, but with no canoli, no comfortable homes, and no promise of a pasta dinner waiting after the hit.  In fact, I don’t think I saw a single person eat in this movie.  Instead Scorsese weaves a gritty and raw world of the South Boston Irish.  It’s complete with harsh humor, ear-pinching Boston brogues, Joyce quotes, bagpipe funerals and the Irish’s own crime franchise: the state police.

“You could become cops or criminals. When you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?” asks crime leader Frank Costello, (Jack Nicholson.) As the story of two Irish cops unravels, one an informant to the crime lord, the other undercover for the police, the answer to this question becomes more and more elusive. Matt Damon delivers an effortless performance as Colin Sullivan, the morally ambivalent informant for crime leader Costello. Leonardo DiCaprio plays it very close to the edge as a Billy Costigan, a young undercover cop wishing all along he could either numb himself or escape but instead struggles to hang onto the thinning thread of what he believes to be right. DiCaprio proves in this film that he has finally grown up.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen him do anything this visceral and one of the best moments in the film belongs to him. While in his therapist’s office, he holds out his hand steadily while he looks like he might kill someone and says so simply, “my hands never shake.”

The casting is impeccable, it’s rare to see so many heavy hitters placed in the same movie and each juicy role gives the actors a chance to shine.  It’s the best I’ve ever seen of Mark Wahlberg who was direct and consistent the young bitter Dignam.  Martin Sheen was as smooth and steady as ever as the even keel as Captain Queenan.  Alec Baldwin (Ellerby) injected humor by somehow making his repeated line, “go fuck yourself” more hilarious each time he said it. Then there’s Jack Nicholson who gets away with a somewhat over the top, yet entertaining, perverse and gritty performance as the maniacal father figure and crime lord Frank Costello. Newcomer Vera Farmiga gracefully holds her own in the far-fetched role of a Madolyn, a therapist who is living with Sullivan and sleeping with Costigan. These two men having a relationship with the same woman, however, seemed all too convenient and unrealistic compared to the rest of the movie.

But what brings it all together is Scorsese.  There is not a false note in this movie.  It reminds why Scorsese became “Scorsese” in the first place. His impeccable direction underlines the fact that everyone in The Departed is screwed from the beginning; it’s just a question of how they’ll go down. He paints a fascinating world, including memorable artful violence, using everything from a hat rack to a work boot as a weapon.  He pays meticulous attention to detail, from the ignition of lace curtains right down to the groceries inside Sullivan’s brown paper bag.  William Monahan’s adaptation matches Scorsese's style especially with its careful evolution of the relationship between Costigan and Sullivan.  Monahan creates a world of characters and places we can almost taste with his curt dialogue, cutting ayful insults, and use of silence.


“The Irish are the only race impervious to psychoanalysis.” Freud once said. Sullivan quotes this to psychotherapist Madolyn on their first date and despite her better judgement, she’s hooked.And the audience is hooked as well.  In an era of films obsessed with self-discovery and psychobabble, I found it incredibly refreshing to watch an entertaining movie where things happen and extremely human characters enter into a high stakes struggle to live in brotherhood, albeit corrupt and violent, it’s the only one they have.

Laura Sweeney



  March 20, 2019

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