Monday, October 23, 2006

Movie Review: The Departed

Last weekend a friend and I went to see The Departed, the new Martin Scorsese film. It wasn't the top film on my list to see, but it seemed to be the available film to see at the right time at a theatre that was easy to get to, so off we went.

I really enjoyed the film, I think. It was one of those films where I just wasn't quite sure what to say when I left. What I did not like, however, was the audience who saw the film with me. I saw the film while I was in DC, so it was a bigger theatre with far more movie-viewing-companions than I'm used to for anything other than Harry Potter openings. The audience seemed to be laughing at totally inappropriate places, where the action just wasn't funny. I've got a good sense of humor, I think, but what I was seeing wasn't funny, wasn't meant to be funny, and if you thought some of it was funny - well, I worry about you. I also had to roll my eyes on the way out, when we were standing near a couple, one of whom kept asking questions about the plot while the other one explained what happened. The plot was *not* tricky. It was fast, but it wasn't tricky, and it was very direct. We also happened to be sitting next to a 'narrator', a person who felt compelled to describe the on-screen action to the person she was sitting with, who appeared capable of figuring that out himself. So, all that drove me a little crazy, but doesn't say much about the film, does it?

The film is not for those who are easily offended by swearing or violence. It is a violent movie, and many of the characters have potty-mouths. It didn't seem unwarranted given the storyline and context, but that's a warning for you.

The leads are played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, and Vera Farmiga. DiCaprio is the standout in the film. I've seen him in many things - I've always thought his baby-face makes him too young looking for the roles he plays, though his acting is always 'on'. Here, it seems his appearance has finally caught up, and he slips completely into his role as a cop working way undercover in Boston. Matt Damon is also good, and he's a completely unlikable character, which he pulls off well considering his usually likeable public persona. Jack Nicholson is - Jack Nicholson. He seems to be having a great time, as usual. Wahlberg and Sheen are fine in supporting roles and provide some of the (actual) comic relief. Farmiga, who I don't remember seeing before, holds her own in a movie that is otherwise entirely dominated by men. Really, she is virtually one of the only women you will see anywhere in the film.

Without wanting to give much away, I'm not sure what to do with the ending. It wasn't all-around gratifying, which I guess is OK, but I'm not sure I would have done it that way. In all, though, the plot was quick-paced and not predictable. I expect DiCaprio at least, and Scorsese, will be nominated for awards for this film. And if you like a thriller that has some brains to it, check out this movie.
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