ALL about… ‘The Departed’

PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES

Credit: Steve Schirra

Madelyn Otcasek: Great acting can’t save shallow, poorly executed film

A great batch of actors with an interesting plot cannot always do justice to a cheesy script and weird cinematography.

The Departed, Martin Scorsese’s latest film venture, is sporadic and strange.

The movie — a remake of the 2002 Japanese film, Infernal Affairs — delves into the life of infiltrators of the Massachusetts State Police and a sect of the Irish Mafia.

It attempts to be suspenseful but doesn’t hold out moments long enough to intrigue the audience. Parts meant to scare the audience invoke giggles instead.

For example, a man gets shot in an elevator and falls in the door frame. When the elevator door starts to close, it is stopped by the body. It seems like a comic device, no matter what Scorsese’s intent was.

The actors are an excellent ensemble and give great solo performances. Leonardo DiCaprio makes his signature “angry” faces, and Jack Nicholson embraces the chance to go crazy in another role. Mark Wahlberg also does an excellent job. Audiences not accustomed to his more serious roles might find him hard to watch at first, but at the end of the film will be convinced. Wahlberg and Matt Damon have the best Boston accents of the cast, mostly because the two grew up around Boston.

Alec Baldwin is also a great addition to the cast. He is almost a comic relief to the action movie, and has the best one-liners in the script. Vera Farmiga, who seems like the lone female in the movie, plays the reliever to both Damon and DiCaprio’s sexual tension.

A few scenes draw the story away from what is really important. At one point, Nicholson is at the opera with two women who later in the scene give him sexual favors for his access to cocaine. It is an example of his power within the drug community, but worthless otherwise.

The cocaine is another aspect of the film that is deciphered too late. The mobsters are also trading computer superprocessor chips, and it’s never quite explained what the mafia does. Yes, they kill and beat people up, which is the trademark of every movie mob, but the movie doesn’t give any more background behind the motives of the Irish Mob.

The film runs at two hours and 28 minutes, something to be expected of a Scorsese film, but not something with as little content as this one. The feud between DiCaprio and Damon is stretched to fill the extra time, which adds more senseless killings to the plot. It’s never quite clear why the characters kill who they do.

Going into this, one could expect something to the quality of Scorsese’s past flicks Goodfellas and Gangs of New York. The heart and depth of those movies are missing, as well as the intrigue and visual effects.

The movie is a good idea, but poorly executed. The actors believe what they’re doing and they convince the audience, but there’s too much left unexplained that makes the film entertaining, but lacking in quality.

David Bolger: Clever editing and acting give Scorsese another classic movie

Two Hollywood legends, Martin Scorsese and Jack Nicholson, team up for the first time to deliver the most anticipated movie of the year and the result will far exceed any expectations viewers may have.

The Departed, Scorsese’s latest film, displays an atypical approach to making a film about corruption. The movie’s not about the corruption of a police unit or a mob, nor is it about the corruption of one person or even a group of people. This is a film about the corruption of an entire society.

Scorsese uses the camera like it’s an appendage, like he was born with a camera in his hand. During dialogue, Scorsese pans the camera around, illuminating the environment in which the dialogue is taking place, adding more to what is being said. No other director would even daydream about attempting such a cinematic feat. Whether it’s the dome of the State building just barely, but hauntingly visible from Colin Sullivan’s (Matt Damon) apartment, reminding him constantly of the ideals he is turning his back on or the rat that scurries across his balcony in the final scene, the screen lush with imagery at all times, not a single frame of film is wasted.

The ensemble of actors Scorsese assembled for this movie will blow viewers away. Leading the way for his younger co-stars is Jack Nicholson, playing Frank Costello, an evil crime boss. The legacy of Nicholson precedes him, as he has been making classic films since 1969, but it is no overstatement to say he has never given a more spirited performance. The evil that Nicholson embodies as Costello is unparalleled by any villain in film history, including Hannibal Lecter. Whether he is carrying on a casual conversation with his counterparts while wrist deep in their blood, wooing young girls in front of their fathers, blackmailing priests and nuns in a family restaurant, or executing a couple and commenting to his friend that she “fell funny,” Nicholson reaches a level of iniquity that is almost surreal to watch.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon both offer surprisingly sharp performances that are complemented perfectly by equally moving turns from Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Anderson and Alec Baldwin. If the script calls for a laugh, audiences will laugh out loud, if it calls for tension, viewers will hold their breath, if the script calls for shock, their blood will run ice cold because the acting is that good.

Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese’s partner-in-crime, delicately places the icing on this delicious cake as the movie’s editor. With a storyline so complex, The Departed could have been a muddled bundle of hopelessly confusing and meaningless pieces had it not been for Schoonmaker’s unmatched editing talent. The movie flows seamlessly and it’s a wonder to all who behold.

From the mysterious beginning to the bloody end, and all the great acting and comic relief in between, Scorsese’s The Departed comes as close to perfection as any movie since Mean Streets has ever come.

Contact ALL Correspondent David Bolger at [email protected]. Contact ALL Correspondent Madelyn Otcasek at [email protected].

The Departed

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Distributed by Warner Bros.

Rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, some strong sexual content and drug material

David’s rating (out of five): * * * * *

Madelyn’s rating (out of five): * *