Art form in films is vital in their success and aging process amongst patrons and purists alike. Story telling is a notion of art form of which if properly captured on film, can bring about a certain dynamic that attracts humans; and can motivate, inspire, and even change the outcome of their daily lives. Along comes The Departed. This somewhat shifted then sculpted idea for a film was destined for Marin Scorsese to direct. Its roots beg for Scorsese’s gripping auteur to clinch on to its vulnerable yet willing loins.
Loving and knowing Scorsese’s style you instinctively will already have a grasp on knowing that you are in for a cinematic treat. It’s hard to not deny that Scorsese is always offering something new and in this case a gift wrapped sack of sheer joy and a full crash course on the bleak and bloody truths of neo-gangster warfare and the grime stuck beneath the fingernails of Boston’s blood crazed streets.
The Departed won best picture for a reason all the while not forgetting Scorsese taking home his long fought for, much deserved first Oscar for best Director in the year of 2006.
From the opening frames you know you’re in for rectified story telling that takes on it powerful presence right from the get go, grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go till the film achieves its climax. This isn’t just your standard cat chases mouse cop bad guy thriller though, it’s underlined with much more filmic hidden motifs that dazzle the membrane. As in most films things are not always what they seem and in The Departed we are fed a series of game changing plot twists that shape, shift, and mold the final outcome of the picture.
From a film making prospective The Departed wreaks havoc upon the frames of which are presented to you by Scorsese’s and Ballhaus collarbative shifted then shaped masterful art form of cinematography. This wasn’t their first rodeo that much I can assure you. Films such as Gangs of NewYork and Goodfellas showcase visually inducing cinematic realms for moviegoers and cinephiles to blur themselves in, there’s no denying that viewers have no problems with keeping eyes upon each and every moving frame. After all we are creating an illusion.
The themes in this film are woven in the story with precision upon every moving frame. The human condition is under the spot light in a manner that most do not realize. Simply put the concept of one’s identity and how it effects our every last move. This coincides with the major portion of the plot because both Sullivan (Damon) and Costigan (Dicaprio) are assuming false identities in order to fulfil their ultimate incentive. Their actions and emotions can tamper with the psyches of said characters at which will alter their future even further, for better or worse.
It’s an underlining theme that can relate to many well executed dramas. None the less, we receive one of the best outings in this regard that film can offer. Bearing in mind that the film is loosely based on the Honk Kong film Internal Affairs, we still get Scorsese story telling in all its glory. Scorsese truly does take advantage of the films two young stars (Damn and Dicaprio) and how their decisions conscience, and unconscious will shape the final outcome of the picture.
It is not long into the film that both Sullivan and Costigan become aware of each other’s existence, if only as nameless faceless entities making each other’s plans go awry. As a result, much of The Departed’s surface tension is derived from the resulting tango of survival between the two, who endeavor to expose one another in a bleak cold manner. Much of the film is thematically predicated around the conflicts between Costigan and Sullivan’s surface persona and true agendas, and therefore spends a significant amount of its running time exploring the concept of identity and its effect on one’s actions, emotions and self-image.
The father son relationship is a very strong motif present throughout the film one of which is also very bold and important to the films twisty plot. Nicholson ‘s Costello is a figure of more than trivial importance : He acts as a mutual force in their lives . Furthermore, his significance is emboldened by the fact that he not only disavows any pretensions about his role as a mob boss, but embraces it. He relishes in being a tyrant, in being perceived as a sleazy psychopath and is in full comprehension of the notion that his power is a tenuous status quo.
It would be erroneous to conclude that because of the blurring of loyalties that result from Costigan and Sullivan’s shifted affiliations that The Departed is about the uncertainty of law criminality. The film chooses not to interrogate the essential justification for criminality or affirm the authority of law enforcement might be the reason behind such an interpretation. However, the truth of the matter is that Scorsese and screenwriter William Monahan are more concerned with examining the concept of morality, honor and dignity as it exists among the characters.
Then there’s the acting. We get some of the most ambitious faces in front the screen with actors such as; Matt Damon, Vera Farmiga, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin, and of course the films true rock stars, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Jack Nicholson. Everyone’s criticism varies from film to mind but I found the acting of the core cast to be whiskey fist solid, no chummy performances of existence in this glorious cinematic realm. Nicholson dries out the film stalk he’s so bleak in his presence.
He represents Death in the form of all those connected inevitably falter to their demise… Alas he commands and thus receives, in such as God would in that he has the power to do so and receive such. With Costigan, we get the Arch Angel who shall rebel against the False Prophet (Costello). Through strife, blood, and suffering there is a chain reaction that sporadically; while blood sausages are stuffed until the meat of the climax implodes onto the screen and viewers alike in a stunning somewhat controversial ending.
Leading up to the climax and from the very beginning we are spoon fed a nice array of genuine story telling. For the most part the plot is linear but still has qualities of nonlinear story telling because we are still told a cat vs. mouse story here at core with peripheries and undertones of varied genius throughout. This is one of those films where EVERYONES part plays a big role in the over quality and final outcome of how the picture is perceived and ultimately how much cash flow it brings to the table.
This is a film that packs some serious muscle in all regards. Scorsese and his crew had some large shoes to fill and without a doubt, accomplished their goal. We get thrills, suspense, action, surreal violence, drama and even love. Scorsese has finely crafted his masterful art of storytelling throughout the years of film and does it in a manner of which very few filmmakers can rival with The Departed. A true gem of a film, and by the books Scorsese’s finest offering. The Juices of Scorsese Film History Professor G 4/8/2013 Nicholas Pacini
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