Sunday, October 08, 2006

May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead

The Departed is to Scorsese what Match Point was to Woody. That is, a return to form. It is a rush of testosterone, with a superlative cast gnashing and vamping its way through a muscular screenplay. This is a two-and-a-half-hour movie that's not a moment too long. Unlike Goodfellas, this is a cops-and-mobbers story that is both opera and chamber piece. Like its Bostonian neighbor, Mystic River, there a sequences of top-knotch suspense and sweeping violence, but there are also intimate moments of great drama and comedy. Scorsese has two generations of terrific screen actors on hand: DiCaprio, Damon and Wahlberg paired with Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Nicholson. They are all savage and hilarious, by turns. And it's great to see DiCaprio share scenes with Nicholson. I have always viewed the former as the rightful successor to the latter. Most refreshing, though, is Scorsese's direction. His choices vibrate with boldness and ambition -- a go-for-broke style that has been missing from his past two films (I was particularly floored by his handling of a scene that involves Sheen toward the end). And The Departed doesn't fizzle out when it reaches that end. Rather, it culminates much like a fireworks display, with plot points that POP POP POP with a blaring suddenness. It's a grand time.

P.S. At my screening, the score and the rest of the soundtrack were kind of "warped." It sounded like someone was playing with the distortion. As odd as it was, it worked so well that I thought it must be intentional. Other people in the theatre thought it surely wasn't, that it was a problem with the print or the projection. If you've seen it, let me know if you had a similar experience. If the distortion was unintentional, that's too bad. It perfectly suited the sour, snitch-based narrative. Nothing and no one in The Departed is on an even keel, even the soundtrack.


Rusty said...

I didn't notice any distortion.

I thought it was very good, but not GREAT. The last 15 minutes didn't work for me. Too many plot jumps and a whole lot of dependence on tertiary characters that I had forgotten about.

I thought the cops (Sheen, Baldwin, and Wahlberg) stole the show. They were phenomenal.

J.J. said...

Well, that makes sense. But still, warped bag pipes and distorted strings really really worked, especially at the suspenseful moments. I was ecstatic about it, actually. I thought it was a very bold (if heavy) choice. Oh well.

As for the plot jumps, it was a bit much, but I loved how committed the movie was to them. There are some serious surprises, and they are earned. And I agree that Sheen, Wahlberg (despite his haircut) and especially Baldwin are just terrific. Baldwin has a hilarious moment as the cops are setting up a sting. Lends wonderful texture to an otherwise hard-boiled tragedy.

Also! Rusty reminded me of The Third Man reference at the end of the movie. Forgot to mention it in the post. I practically jumped out of my seat when it happened. Involves a funeral, and a woman who wants to be somewhere -- anywhere -- else. Wonderful.

Rusty said...

Haha! Yes! Go me!

I am so smrt. I am so smrt! S-M-R-T!

Anonymous said...

Goddamn! This just makes me want to see it even more.

Fanboy said...

I really liked it. It wasn't what I expected it to be. Having said that, I like the original version (Infernal Affairs) better, but I am a sucker for most Asian cinema.

Anonymous said...

I liked it too. Loved the Match Point analogy. Right ON!