Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Departed (2006) 3 of 4

**this review contains only mild spoilers**

The Departed wants to be in the league of Heat, another epic-length cops-and-robbers opera with huge stars making homoerotic love through violence.  Still, every movie has to be taken in context, and The Departed suffers from arriving late, seeming like a season of an HBO series that for some reason has been cut down to feature length.
I'll enjoy this film more if I watch it again, because I'll be ready for its monotonous pacing. A fast film can be monotonous, too, and this one is all exposition and plot points, with never a chance to exhale.  As it wound up with a number of twists, I was reminded of the tongue-in-cheek neo-noir Wild Things, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, although I doubt it's what the filmmakers had in mind.

It's set in South Boston, like Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and the overrated Boondock Saints.  It's nice to see my distant cousins get a top-flight gangster movie, even if Scorsese is past his peak and groping to find the honor among thieves.  At this point, I think his heart is with more lovely fare like Hugo.
If cops are criminals and vice versa, as Jack Nicholson's character says "What's the difference?"
The Departed is a film of moments, for the top-notch cast of Nicholson, DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Alex Baldwin, and Vera Farmiga.  Scorsese assembled them in Boston to trade punches, bullets, and lines like "20 years after a fucking Irishman couldn't get a job, we had the presidency, may he rest in peace" (Nicholson), "Marriage is an important part of getting ahead ... they figure at least someone can stand the son-of-a-bitch" (Baldwin), and "Fuck you, cocksucker" (everyone).

The moment that sticks with me is when police trainee Damon responds to a rugby loss to a team of fire trainees by suggesting they "go save a kitten, ya homo's."  This kind of line is designed for the collective laughter of a theatre.  Watching the film at home, I found the line vaguely sad, a gesture from cinema guys trying to show us there are some things that TV still can't do.  

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