The Departed

I mentioned that I saw The Departed this weekend and thought I’d do a list of random thoughts on it…I’m feeling a little discombobulated and my writing reflects on it, I’m afraid. Lists seem to fit my attention span these days.

1. As great an actor as he is, it’s so tough to watch Jack Nicholson in this role without seeing only Jack Nicholson. Check that…I could see the Joker from Batman, and the Devil in The Witches of Eastwick too. Yes, that’s been an issue for some time, but never more so in this role. I have to wonder what a lesser known actor would have given to this role.

2. This is Leo DiCaprio’s best work yet. And it underscores the need to cast him very, very carefully…some of the more straight on leading man roles like Howard Hughes, for example, are out of his grasp. It was refreshing to see him play cocky (which we all know he can do in his sleep), with naked, bone-weary vulnerability for a change.

3. My mother has been known to gush over the sheer cuteness in Leo. Is it wierd that I, at twenty years younger, feel only maternal instincts every time I watch him? You know, like feed him the right food, get him home at a reasonable hour, and keep him out of all the trouble he gets into in these flicks?

4. Matt Damon owns the stock in trade on amoral characters with altar boy looks and toothless romantic appeal.

5. I don’t care if I ever hear the Rolling Stone’s Gimme Shelter in a Scorcese film again.

6. But…the use of Van Morrisson’s rendition of Comfortably Numb was haunting and spot on.

7. The Departed was the perfect title for this film. What struck me the most was the undercurrents of paternal influence in this movie. Without the shadow of absentee fathers in Colin and Billy’s psyches, there is little motiviation in their roles as good son/bad son to Jack Nicholson’s surrogate. And rounding out the end of events with a fatherless unborn son was a particlularly sad exclamation point.

8. I particularly appreciated a story about rats and moles in a city rampant with the literal creature. Sickly amusing.

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October 2006
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