It’s rare that a film works on as many levels as Martin Scorsese’s brilliant crime drama, “The Departed.” The film weaves between
characters and locations at a breakneck pace that hardly lets us catch our breath. And even when we do catch up, we realize that we still
have no idea where it’s going.
The success of The Departed starts with William Monahan’s screenplay. Not only does Monahan impressively tell an enthralling mystery, he
does so despite showing us nearly everything that is going on. The film doesn’t rely on cheap techniques such as an inconvenient camera
angle. The dialog is also sharp and witty. This work is even more impressive than Monahan’s excellent “Kingdom of Heaven.”
Equally fantastic is Scorsese’s direction, which is as creative and talented as ever. Scorsese is truly one of the finest directors in film
history and “The Departed” is a highlight reel of how to film. Scorsese is a master of bringing style and energy through his camerawork
without ever going so far as to distract from the story.
It wouldn’t be a Scorsese film without an incredible cast, and it would be hard to do better than “The Departed.” Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt
Damon, and Jack Nicholson headline the superb cast which also includes Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, and Alec Baldwin. Every single
one of these performances is memorable and entertaining. Probably the most impressive are Leonardo DiCaprio as the vulnerable,
stressed, and likeable Billy Costigan, and Jack Nicholson as the wacky, but never too far over the top crime lord.
As clichéd as it sounds, as this film reaches its conclusion, you will be on the edge of your seat. You have no idea where this film goes. It
is this in combination with the great characters that makes “The Departed” a great film instead of a very good one.
I fully expect “The Departed” to be among the highest honored films of the year come awards season. The film is an overwhelming
success, one that reminds us why we love movies so very much. If you have any interest in film whatsoever, do yourself a favor and see
this movie. It’s not often that one like this comes along.
* * * *
(out of four)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: William Monahan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack
Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray WInstone
Cinematography by: Michael Ballhaus
Music by: Howard Shore
Released: October 6, 2006; 150 Minutes