The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese, is one of the greatest movies produced in the 2000s. Possibly ever. The film is a crime drama set in Boston. An undercover state cop has infiltrated an Irish gang and tries to disrupt the operation. The mobsters themselves have a rat within the police department, and the entire film is centered on the two sides. I hope you enjoyed that “Cliff notes” version of such an incredible film. This film is one of the greatest for two distinct reasons: the acting, the writing.
Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiga, Ray
Winstone, Anthony Anderson, and Martin Sheen make up an impeccable cast. Should I even bother continuing? Are you still reading this? No? You’re watching the movie now? Ok, good.
Dicaprio, Nicholson, and Wahlberg were nominated for Golden Globes for their acting, and the entire cast was nominated by the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. I can’t name one other film I’ve seen that I remember more than five of the actors’ names. The Departed, however, displays these notable actors at their best. And they are memorable. This cast is full of professionals, that which isn’t disputed, but if you are not left in awe at the end of this film you are a soulless, unappreciative slug. These actors have it easy; however, they were given an incredible story.
The screen writing for this film is likewise phenomenal. What make a great story are great characters, and The Departed is not lacking by any means in this category. Instead of telling you the story itself, I’m going to tell you the effect it will have on you. I cannot give it away; it’s not fair to you. This story will move you and it will make you appreciate the history behind the story. It is a true story about an Irish gang, and the way William Monahan brings these characters to life is beyond the simple story. The complexity of the plot will keep you scratching your head, but the intensity will keep you wanting more like an unfamiliar fruit. I’m not comparing the film to modern-day art, but instead, the film represents an early form of storytelling unfamiliar to audiences. It challenges the idea of story structure and forces you to ride a motorcycle before you’ve tackled training wheels.
Darwin once said that “it’s not the survival of the strongest or the most intelligent, it’s the ones most adaptable to change” that are most successful. Art and film are susceptible to change. We live in an ever-changing world. Monahan, Scorsese, and this cast are all present-day Darwin’s. They are our lens into what we want to know of a story. They provide us with a story, a film that represents an emotion that is unique to the viewer.
The film is above entertainment. It is the unknown and it is intangible. But art is the unknown; art is the antidote for quiet desperation. This film is art, and a solace for deep thought for those that want to escape.