Nowadays movies seem to have some sort of emptiness to them that makes them watchable at first but leaves a bitter atmosphere at the end. This time it was Scorsese’s new movie “The Departed” that left me with some questions. Rhetorical questions of course because in the case of a Martin Scorsese movie you mustn’t ask any questions. The list of A-actors alone makes the movie sort of untouchable as I have read numerous blind-eyed reviews of the movie. Don’t bother looking for sober reviews, as the two previous movies by Scorsese starring Leonardo DiCaprio “Gangs of New York” and “The Aviator” have been brilliant indeed, you won’t find any. Scorseses talent “shines [...] on it’s highest beams” writes the Rolling Stone, “Thelma Schoonmaker turns editing into an art form”, yes, but one might say that there have been art forms that are hardly understandable. Nevertheless the viewer would love to understand why all these hard cuts are made. Also I would like to know why Pink floyds “Comfortably Numb” is played in a scene where it doesn’t belong to. There are no reasons for this other than to alienate the viewer. I have asked myself this questions already while watching Crowes “Vanilly Sky” where Joan Osborne’s “One of us” is played during the love making and killing scene of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz/Penélope Cruz.
First of all you will have to bring a lot of previous gangster-movie knowledge to the movie with you as, for instance, Scorsese doesn’t explain why Matt Damon is so loyal to Jack Nicholson; this is simply explained by a scene in the beginning where Nicholson bounteously gives the young Matt Damon a bag of goodies. Later on you won’t see any doubt in Matt Damons strands of plots apart from him looking at the golden dome of the State House. DiCaprios intention to become a cop are simply crushed in a good/bad cop scene which is edited in a special way to make the scene appear longer so you don’t notice how unbelievable it is that – what is explained later and during the scene – DiCaprio gives up his career just because his bosses found out that he had some crooks in his family. They certainly wouldn’t have let him become a cop in the first place if that had made any difference. At the end of this scene DiCaprio is willing to go back into his shitty life and deal coke with his cousin – a matter of minutes against his year long apprenticeship – while Matt Damon has already been advanced several times and everyone listens to his command. Scorsese rounds up his row of unbelievable actions of unbelievable characters with Vera Farmiga who gives out prescriptions for the whining DiCaprio and randomly falls in love with anyone who either memorizes pickup lines or insults her in her office. I have hardly seen any scene as made up as the one where she carries the prescription to DiCaprio and he asks her out for a cup of coffee. There is absolutely no hint as to why she should do something like that.
In the beginning DiCaprio beats up two mob guys and becomes Jack Nicholsons “new one” now infiltrating the bad guys and Matt Damon carries on being the eager beaver of the police department. In both parties it is simply assumed that there is a “rat” and the search for it begins.
Secondly you will have to be very experienced in terms of dealing with violance in movies. At the end of the movie all rats and all the good and the bad guys have been blasted their brains out of their skulls and only one clever Mark Wahlberg goes off into an unknown future. In the meantime Martin Sheen flies through the screen to end up on the pavement, the cell phone has finally become its place in feature movies as a new medium of gangster actions and all former gangster movies aesthetics have been transferred into more subtle scenarios. If you have seen the movie up to the end you will have heard a grotesque amount of swear words, literally everyone fucks and sucks everyone (and everything) and there is no undisgraced mother or compatriot left. If that doesn’t ruin the movie the amount of brain matter and/or blood that flies (mostly from left to right) through the whole movie will do. The effect of all of this is lost after about half an hour because there is no more balance or difference between death and life. Most of the critics might say that there is a higher meaning or reason to this, that this is an especially realistic approach to a contemporary state of crime in cities like Boston and Martin Scorsese shows that by being especially unfashionable concerning the clothes of Nicholson, DiCaprio and the other protagonists. Also one would have to get over the swearing as this is also realistic or maybe set to scare the more delicately strung. Well, I can tell you: it scared me away, too.