There is nothing refined and Edwardian or Jane Austenesque about the movie The Departed. For all practical purposes, this movie should not appeal to me, and for that reason, I KNOW that The Departed is a masterpiece. Regardless of whether I liked the cinematography or the artiness of the film or not, I knew, from almost the beginning, that this film was outstanding.
Spoilers are included in the following summary:
On one level, the movie is a contrast of what appears to be good and what is actually good.
Quite often, I write about narcissists. Many narcissists appear to be of the highest character. They are the political leaders–they are the CEO’s of huge corporations. They are brilliant, and they are the upper crust of society, but they are also master manipulators. They can pretend to be whatever they want to be.
In the opening scenes of the movie, the Catholic Church is juxtaposed alongside the Irish mob. The immediate suggestion is that things may not be as they appear.
In the beginning of the movie, Mark Wahlberg appears to be a total jerk, but at the end of the movie, we see more of who he actually is. Similarly, Leonardo diCaprio is initially depicted as a conflicted, angry, hostile person; and Matt Damon is depicted as the smooth, clean-cut, choir-boy. The movie becomes the realization of what actually IS, as opposed to how things seem to be, and I say this in the most literal sense of the word.
All of us who have studied writing have heard the bit of advice: “Show–Don’t Tell,” and The Departed is a masterpiece of showing, as opposed to telling. Neither the Cliff’s Notes nor my summary can explain the artistry of the movie. It is only through experiencing The Departed that its brilliance can be appreciated.
There is no fluff in The Departed. Every scene works together, like a well-oiled machine, and Jack Nicholson is the juice. Nicholson plays the part of a depraved, evil, sadistic, and crazy criminal. In the following scene, look at Nicholson’s rat-like mouth, as he expresses his dislike for rats [he is talking about people who rat on their peers].
By the end of the movie, it becomes interesting that Costello [Jack Nicholson] is not exactly what he seems to be either.
I love the way that the psychiatrist is depicted in this movie. The psychiatrist, who is supposed to be wise to people who are not who they seem to be, is fooled, too. The way that the movie brings all of this about is inspired.
In my opinion, DiCaprio’s performance was exceptional in this movie. If I had to choose one of the cast as best actor, I would choose Leonardo diCaprio.
During the month of February, I am looking at several Oscar-winning movies that have arisen over the years. I have mentioned The Wizard of Oz, The Bishop’s Wife, and The Departed. When you look at that range of movies as a general sample, it is obvious that I do not prefer fantasy over crime, and I do not prefer romance. What I admire in a movie is beyond genre. I like to see that the movie achieves something notable. I like for movies to have a good story, and if the movie is fantasy, I want to feel its magic. If the movie is real, I want to experience its realness. In my opinion, all three of the movies that I have named are great movie productions.
©Jacki Kellum February 11, 2015