Scorsese Month Review: The Departed

Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay By: William Monahan
Release Date: October 6, 2006
Run Time: 151 Minuets
Rating: R
Score: 4.5/5

While I can’t call this my favorite Scorsese movie I can say I think it’s his best (at lest from the ones i’ve seen). It’s as well acted, well directed and well scored as we’ve all come to expect from Scorsese, but what pushes this over the edge into “best of” territory is the script. “The Departed” is nothing less that a master class in dramatic irony. For those who skipped English class, dramatic irony is when we, the audience, are privy to knowledge that most of if not all the cast isn’t aware of. For example: in “Romeo and Juliet”, Romeo awakes near the end of the play to find Juliet dead, but we know that she is only sleeping. And no, I’m not adding a spoiler warning to a 400+ year old play you all should have read by now.
Getting back on topic, “The Departed” is about a group of Massachusetts police trying to take down the Costello crime family. Unbeknownst to the police, Costello has a man on the inside, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) who’s not just on the inside but a high ranking official. But that’s not all: what Costello doesn’t know is that the police have their own mole, Billy Costigan (Leonardo Dicaprio). Both groups end up finding out they’ve been infiltrated, and the moles are then tasked with finding each other. .
What makes this so good is, again, the dramatic irony. Dicaprio’s Costigan is constantly getting the crap beat out of him, while not much goes wrong in the life of Sullivan. Maybe I have a dark sense of humor, or maybe i’m just a bad person, but I constantly found this set up to rather funny. There’s a part where Dicaprio’s character has a broken arm, only to have it constantly smashed on a pool-table in order to break of the cast that I couldn’t stop laughing at. Is the scene meant to be funny? Probably not, but that doesn’t change the fact. It’s not all laughs though. There are a few scenes that are genuinely puls pounding, like when both moles are either close to each other or on different sides of an operation, each trying to inform their real owners on what’s going on. I can’t really say a whole lot more with out spoiling the movie, and in the case it really is better to go in as cold as possible.
What I can talk about is just how good the cast was. Damon and Dicaprio both did great, but you already knew that (or you should if you’ve ever watched a movie with either of them), but there wasn’t a single bad performance here. Hell, I even like Mark Wahlberg in this, and I normally don’t like him as an actor (granted, this isn’t as impressive as David Fincher making me like Tyler Perry in “Gone Girl”, but it’s impressive none the less). And then there’s Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello. Again, if you’ve ever seen a movie with Jack Nicholson then you already knew going into this that he was going to be good, he may be one of the best things in the movie. While he makes Costello intimidating, he also makes the character a lot of fun. There’s a scene with him and Damon in a theater that just cracked me up when I saw it. Out of ever Nicholson film i’ve seen, this has got to be one of the best from him. And when you take in to consideration that he’s been in both “Chinatown” and “the Shining” that says a lot.
Going back to Scorsese for a minuet, I said at the end of last weeks review that this was the film that landed him his first Oscar, for both best director and best picture. The question is: should it have won, and was does it should the academy have give him an award before hand. Personally, I think this was a group trying to make up for a looot of mistakes by not giving him an Oscar be for then. And yes, I think he should have won. I just wish he won in a better yeah. The 2007 nominees for best picture were lacking in my opinion. Sure, I liked “Bable” and “Little Miss Sunshine”, but winning over them and the other nominees is kind of like a sports star winning over a middle school team, and it’s this kind of thing that makes me not trust the oscars all that much (well, that and the fact that both “The English Patient” and “The Artist” also both won best picture). I mean, was “Dancing with Wolves” really better than “Goodfellas”? Was “Rocky” really better than “Taxi Driver”? In the end, while I think the award is pretty pointless, it was about time for Scorsese’s talent to be recognized, and they couldn’t have found a better movie to do it with. In the end, that’s really all there is to say. In the end that’s all that needs to be said. This is a fantastic movie and if you haven’t seen it you should go do that. Now. Like, right now. Stop reading and go. Why are you still here, get going.