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Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Departed - DVD

AndyO review: * * * *

Between viewing this film and writing this review, "The Departed" has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Film. It's nice to see Martin Scorcese finally get some recognition, although I liked "The Aviator" better. Anyway, here's my review:

I can't stop thinking about Jack Nicholson in this movie as Frank Costello, an Irish mob boss. It's rare for an actor to get under your skin, and Nicholson's done this throughout his career. Now that I think about it, I can remember many movies where Nicholson has cast his spell on me and the audience (see the end of this review for a list). Most actors would be lucky to have just one movie where they connect with a character and the audience.

The great thing about "The Departed," is Nicholson is playing against a group of very talented actors -- many of whom have never worked together: Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg (nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), Leonardo DiCaprio, and Martin Sheen. "The Departed" is definitely the story DiCaprio's character, but it's Nicholson who is at the center of it all -- the engine that makes the plot run.

In "The Departed," DiCaprio is Billy Costigan, a cop who goes undercover in Costello's crime organization. But what Costigan and the cops don't know is that Costello has a mole with the police: Damon's character Collin Sullivan. And it's with this setup that the dance between the police and Sullivan begins.

"The Departed" allows Scorcese a chance to explore the theme of duality in a different way. Is Billy Costigan a cop or a bad guy? Is Collin Sullivan a bad guy or a cop? Is Dignam (Wahlberg) a cop or a murderer?

I thought of a few other examples of Scorcese exploring duality in his other movies.

  • In "The Aviator," is Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) a genius or a madman?
  • In "Goodfellas," is Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) a Mafioso or an informant?
  • In "The Last Temptation of Christ," is Christ (Willem Defoe) the Son of God or a man who has the same temptations as all of us? 
  • In "Taxi Driver," is Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) a hero or a murderer?      

The answer is for all these characters is "both." That's what makes us human. And that's what makes Scorcese's movies so interesting to watch.


A list of Jack Nicholson's films where he cast his spell on me:

posted by AndyO @ 10:53 PM   0 comments