' ' Cinema Romantico: The Departed

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Departed

By the time the title card for “The Departed” finally pops up onscreen you will already be involved with this movie in a way you have not been involved with a movie for some time, I assure you. I do not hesitate to say this is famed auteur Martin Scorsese’s best film since “Goodfellas”.

I will tell you what the preview tells you. The story concerns a police informant (Leonardo DiCaprio) infiltrating the organization of Irish mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) while at the same time one of Costello’s men (Matt Damon) infiltrates the police force. Things go back and forth as everyone then tries to weed out the two men. Meanwhile both informants get tangled up with a police therapist (Vera Farmiga).

The movie may hinge on a plot we’ve seen before but Scorsese’s execution elevates it, and elevates it leaps and bounds. He is in complete control – cutting, jumping around, using pop music in unexpected ways (as is his hallmark). And this movie is funny – really funny. It’s far more funny than any so-called comedy in recent times can claim to be.

DiCaprio may give the finest performance of his career. Damon is excellent. Farmiga is excellent. Jack Nicholson is, well, Jack Nicholson. I suppose he goes over-the-top but no one can control an over-the-top performance like Jack Nicholson. Mark Wahlberg is excellent. And profane. Alec Baldwin is excellent and delivers possibly the funniest moment in the whole film, regarding his theories on marriage. The lines themselves are funny but he says them so matter-of-factly I was literally doubled over from laughter.

By the end of the second act I was ready to proclaim this a bona-fide masterpiece. Unfortunately, it stumbles a bit in the third act if only because Scorsese is forced to tie up the story by going through the motions of plot rather than focusing on character and situation and his mastery of the medium. But I quibble.

If Scorsese had won his elusive Oscar for “Gangs of New York” or “The Aviator” it would have been the classic makeup Oscar. “Sorry we screwed you over for so long. Let us make it up to you.” But if he takes home the golden guy for “The Departed” there is no doubt he will have earned it. This is the type of movie where you can say no matter what it would have been good. But the direction makes it great.

1 comment:

The Fab Miss B said...

I was totally blown away by this movie as well...Easily easily his best since Goodfellas and I really really wanted to like the in between-ers because, come on, its Scorsese...but he really came through. (Did you read that DeNiro was going to play the Martin Sheen role? So glad that didn't happen. Martin Sheen was perfectly cast as the good Irish Catholic policeman.)