Sunday, October 15, 2006

TRH Movie - The Departed

After being totally burned out with the two manuscripts I have due (the past four weeks have been intense), and getting nowhere with the second one that I need to hand in (one's already gone, yay!), my RRHB convinced me to take a break and we went to see a movie this afternoon. And before you ask, yes, I'm back to editing right now.

Annnywwaaay. We tried to go see The Departed last night and it was sold out, so this afternoon we left early for the theatre. And I am thankful we did. It's probably one of the best films I've seen this year, if not the best, and I'm so happy not to be disappointed. I love Martin Scorsese, I mean, I even dug Gangs of New York as surprising as that might be, but this film, well, this film kind of sort of blew me away. I watch so many movies that already knowing what's going to happen, or at least having some idea when it comes to cops and mobsters, of the intended endings, isn't surprising. Here, in The Departed though, I had no idea, and that was so refreshing.

William Monahan's script is stupendous; it's not good in a contrived kind of way, doesn't want to pull on your heartstrings and make a big, righteous point (ahem, Crash), but it gets there nonetheless. And like Clint Eastwood's Mystic River a lot of the reasons why the film works is because it's not set in New York, as Lisa Schwarzbaum points out, but in the streets of Boston. Not unlike Brotherhood something happens when you take the mob out of the mean streets, there's an edge that seems kind of akin to the cool kids at that table in high school, the more interesting and grittier individuals are probably holding court out back in the smoking area.

And the smoking area it is, The Departed brings Shakespeare to a new age, a drama that has classical implications, the pairing of Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as two cops, total opposites in terms of integrity and coming from parallel but still inverse backgrounds, coupled with the slow disintegration of their worlds and their identities , tossed around with the very real threat of, well, death, really and truly works.

There's a line that Matt Damon says to the pivotal lady in the film, Vera Farmiga, who plays a state shrink, as his world starts to crumble (and I'm paraphrasing, because I'm damn tired) that sort of sums up the entire pathos of the film: "If this has to end, you've got to be the one to end it. I'm Irish, we I can live in a bad situation for the rest of my life."

It's a world where self-preservation seems more profound with the silences, where Jack Nicholson, who reigns as the big, bad Boston boss, can frolic at the opera (wha?) as easily as he can at a Southie bar, and still come out without necessarily breaking character. It's a world where good equals bad, equals good, equals totally farked up until the utterly satisfying ending, of which you'll find no spoilers here (see, see when it's a movie I like, I won't give away the ending). There's value in watching the story unfold, as each man discovers who the other one is (mole, meet rat, rat meet mole), they find themselves in ever-increasingly morally problematic situations. And we're the richer for them.

My only criticism? That there's no mob wife, no lady other than the doe 'caught in the middle' of Farmiga's Madolyn. Even if Laura Linney's Lady Macbeth-like Annabeth seemingly comes out of nowhere, she's at least at the table. She's not the dressing; she's actually at the table, part of which the non-existent female characters in this male-centric movie are missing.

But still, the more I think about it, the more I like this film. Hell, I'd even pay to see it again.

2 comments:

Heather said...

I voted for this movie but Monster House won out. I have to say that I wasn't disappointed...it was in 3D! (Next on my list? The Departed)

Carrie said...

This is the first thing I've read that actually makes me want to see this movie. I read the NYT Magazine article featuring the female lead (in an article about the dearth of good roles for smart leading ladies) and her comments about the movies kinda turned me off, even if they seemed truthful.