Friday, May 9, 2014

Best Picture: "The Departed," 2006

Movie Stats:
Released 2006 (USA)
American & Hong Kongian (?), in English (some non-translated Cantonese)
Director – Martin Scorsese
Stars – Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, and many others

Plot Summary:
While undercover cop Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) tries to get close enough to big-time crime boss Frank Costello (Nicholson) to make a bust, Frank’s man Colin Sullivan (Damon) infiltrates the police department. It’s a race to see who discovers who first. Wahlberg co-stars as Dignam, one of the heads of the undercover department.

Lots of graphic violence; copious blue language, including racial epithets; and heavily implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
Madolyn Madden (Vera Farmiga) is the worst psychotherapist ever. Plus, her character is pretty useless. Not even sure why she’s there.

All the rat imagery is a bit heavy-handed for me, especially the scene at the very end. When I saw it in the theater, I actually groaned in embarrassment at that scene.

It’s a little bit too long.

Good Stuff:
The performances are phenomenal. They’re what make this film. Everyone is so good that it’s a little difficult to single out the best, but I think my favorites are DiCaprio and Wahlberg. I’ve always thought that DiCaprio is a great actor, but he’s magnificent here, so expressive and wounded. Watching his character fall apart is as fascinating as it is sad. As for Wahlberg, his character cracks me up. He’s such an abrasive jerk and yet he’s still likable because he’s trying to do the right thing.

It’s intense in the best kind of way. Who’s going to get caught? Who’s going to get away with it? Is anyone going to get killed? You just know something bad is going to happen but you don’t know when and that leaves you squirming. Even though I’d seen it before, I was still on the edge of my seat the second time around.

Great soundtrack.

The Verdict:
I really like this movie. It’s not trying to teach you any lessons (except maybe that snitches get stitches). It doesn’t have anything momentous to say. It’s simply a very well done thriller, and sometimes that’s a good thing. Not all Oscar winners have to be cerebral. If you don’t like blood or physical violence or the death of a major character (or swearing), then this movie probably isn’t for you. I don’t typically mind that kind of stuff, but there’s one death in particular that was a bit gruesome even for me.

The reason to see this movie is the quality acting. Even Nicholson, who I generally find to be somewhat one-note, is great here (he doesn’t go all crazy-eyed wise-guy until the end). On a shallow note, this film reminded me of why I had such a huge crush on Leonardo DiCaprio for years. He’s insanely hot here, even as he scowls his way (understandably) through the whole thing. 

I give the film 4.5 stars.


Patricia said...

I was drinking in a bar with a friend a few months ago and I could not for the life of me figure out what movie was playing on the bar TV. It had Matt Damon in it, and with the rest of the people on the screen I was incredibly confused. It turned out to be this one. I had forgotten Damon was in it, so incredibly overshadowing was DiCaprio's performance.

That scene where he shows up at his former shrink's apartment? Probably a top-10 in venerable bad boy scenes. And yes, she is a terrible shrink. And I second the guy on Facebook who called out 50/50 for having the same problem.

This was the movie we knew won Best Director by who presented the award at the Oscar Ceremonies. That was a sweet moment. And we were in the same room, I think. Right?

balyien said...

Matt Damon's performance is great (my favorite scene of his is when Colin is in the elevator with Billy and he finally caves under all the pressure) but he is most definitely overshadowed by DiCaprio.

Was this the one at Kelly's where Michael was so miserably allergic to her cat? Or was that the one before? We're very nearly to the time when I no longer lived there to have Oscar parties with you guys. :(