Wednesday, February 1, 2012

100 Movies - No. 27: The Departed

27. The Departed (2006)
Crime, Drama, 151 minutes
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson

I have heard a lot of criticism for The Departed because it's based on the Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs (2002). While I'm usually against remakes of any kind, there are a few that were worth the effort. Another criticism is that Scorsese won the Oscar for Best Director for this instead of several superior films. I understand that argument, but it shouldn't be a reason to downgrade the film. I must admit I haven't seen Infernal Affairs, and there are still a few Scorsese films that I haven't got around to, but I am certain that The Departed is my favorite from the many I have seen.

The Departed works for me because of Scorsese and the incredible cast. DiCaprio and Damon are both superb in their roles and both are among my favorite modern actors. Jack Nicholson dominates the screen as Frank Costello and Ray Winstone is perfect as his main sidekick. This is also the first film in which I noticed Vera Farmiga. The supporting cast includes Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen. What's not to like?

The movie has a complicated plot and it's a pleasure to see it unfold. There isn't much action, but the few scenes that do contain action are violent and shocking. The movie is enhanced by the dialogue which partly explains why it is 50 minutes longer than Infernal Affairs. The characters have considerable depth and I always come away from the movie feeling that I know them.

The Departed won Oscars for Best Director, Film Editing, Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. Although it didn't win any acting awards, there wasn't a bad performance from any of the cast. Writing this now, I realize that I need to see the movie again soon. It's definitely one of my favorites and easily in my Top 20.

If you like The Departed:

I'll be watching Infernal Affairs in the near future to see whether any of the criticism about The Departed is justified. Scorsese has produced some wonderful films in the past 40 years and they are all worth seeing. I would certainly make an effort to see Taxi Driver if you admire his style of directing. The Departed is set in Boston and I would also suggest The Town, directed by Ben Affleck, if you like that Boston feel. Jonathan Richman would surely approve.

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