The Departed – Snitches Get Stitches

The Departed – Snitches Get Stitches

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  1. Martin Scorsese is gangster.  Well, he may not actually be gangster, but he has certainly made quite a few gangster films.  Technically, they are mobster films, but all that matters is that they are very good:  Mean StreetsGoodfellasCasinoGangs of New YorkThe Departed.  He has also made a number of other highly aclaimed films; however, he has only won one Oscar and that was in 2007 for Best Director for The Departed, which also won Best Picture that year.  The Departed picked up two other Oscars including Best Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker) and Best Adapted Screenplay for William Monahan’s adaptation of Infernal Affairs written by Alan Mak and Felix Chung.  Mark Wahlberg was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Alan Arkin from Little Miss Sunshine

    What is it about?

    The Departed is about two cops.  One cop, Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio), works undercover in Boston’s most dangerous mob run by Frank Costello (Jack NIcholson).  The other cop, Colin (Matt Damon), works for Costello as a rat in Boston’s police force.  These two "rats" spend the film trying to find each other.  While Colin tries to figure out which one of Costello’s thugs is a cop, Billy tries to figure out which cop is an informant for Costello.

    Of couse, some other stories intertwine throughout the film including the formation and breakdown of Colin’s relationship with police shrink, Madolyn (Vera Farmiga).  Interestingly, it also follows Billy’s relationship with Madolyn which is almost an inverse of her relationship with Colin.  Ultimately, though, the film boils down to who rats out whom and how that affects each individual’s loyalties in relation to the other characters.

    Is it any good?

    Winning Best Picture at the Oscars doesn’t necessarily mean that a film is exciting to watch.  The Departed, though, is quite exciting and well made.  The story is very engaging and draws you in from the first shot.  Part of why it is so engaging is that the characters are so well developed.  Even the bad guys are people that you really get to know and understand what makes them tick.  It helps that the cast is so amazing.  DiCaprio, Damon, Wahlberg, and Nicholson have been nominated for a comnbined 18 acting Oscars and the spporting cast is great as well featuring the talents of Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiga, and Ray Winstone.  Even the actors whose names you wouldn’t recognnize play their roles with the honesty a film this in-your-face requires.

    Another thing that shines in this film is its inclusion of a wide variety of genres.  From brutally violent action and espionage to comedy and even some romance.  Obviously, the focus is the intrigue and action; but, having comedy and romance sprinkled in throughout gives you a nice break from the heaviness of the violence.

    The most troublesome aspect of this film are the sometimes forced Bostonian accents that the majority of the actors thickly lay on.  Also, the story gets a little convoluted at the end with so many people backstabbing everyone else and so many people dying-even some of the main characters.  It almost feels like the excessive number of deaths and double crosses are just thrown in to shock and surprise the audience without serving a real purpose for the message of the film.

    Is there a message in this film?

    On the surface, the message of The Departed is the classic line:  snitches get stitches.  Colin is a snitch for Costello and Billy is a snitch for the police… the story does not end well for either of them.  It turns out that Costello is a snitch, too, and his story doesn’t end any better than Colin’s or Billy’s.

    Ultimately, though, the story is about father figures.  Billy and Colin both have two men competing for their allegiance in a fatherly manner.  Billy has to decide between the evil Costello and the good Queenan (Martin Sheen), while Colin must choose either Costello or Ellerby (Alec Baldwin).  Throughout the film, each one of these men offers advice, food, support, encouragement and other fatherly things to Billy and/or Colin making the film an interesting look at a father’s role in a child’s life… even if it’s not the child’s real father.

    So, in the end, The Departed asks you the following question:  "Whom do you look up to; a good role model, or a bad one?"

    Nolan’s Grade:  A+

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