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The Statesman

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The Statesman

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    Reel Deal

    It is not for the weak of heart, or the short of attention span, but The Departed beautifully demonstrated that a movie does not have to be predictable to be a crowd pleaser. The majority of this two hour and thirty minute film plots along at an even keel, definitely keeping interest, but not nearly as action-packed as its last twenty minutes.

    The cast is a huge pull factor. Jack Nicholson gives a flawless performance as the deranged and maniacal leader of the Bostonian sect of the Irish mafia, Frank Costello. Matt Damon, as a Boston police detective acting as an informant for the mafia leader with whom he has an avuncular relationship, is an easily hated criminal. And as the downtrodden, and luckless underdog, is Leonardo DiCaprio, a failed police cadet from a dysfunctional family who is placed undercover as a main player in Costello’s gang.

    Essentially, the plot revolves’ around a police and mafia cat and mouse game, a battle of wills between each of the moles, and a complex love triangle involving the precinct psychiatrist. An all-star cast was extremely necessary for a plot that depends upon character depictions as the vehiclefor powerfully conveying human will, self preservation and sacrifice.

    Confusion is eminent at first, as the movie is uniquely strung together in a very rapid back and forth between the lives of the two spies, the world of the mafia, and the tension of the police department. The film’s main theme is corruption, and an audience watches in wonder as even the simplest of loyalties are completely unraveled, distorted, and enlarged to become implications of who will survive and who will be killed.

    The majority of the movie is kept light, with amusing vernacular, oddly timed humorous remarks, and is almost generally funny because the terms and lifestyle illustrated is so far removed from those of an average Long Island audience. There were many reasons along the way to laugh out loud, a joviality on screen and amongst the viewers that was usually curtailed by gun shots.

    As mentioned before, there is a disturbing amount of violence in the movie’s action, but not needlessly. The gore drives home the urgency of the situation: that anyone can die at anytime because they have said too much, were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or were not careful enough in lying about their identity. What was most striking concerning the film’s brutality was the audience reaction.

    While gasps from viewers peppered The Departed throughout, most left the theater virtually unscathed, totally complacent with the bloodbath they had just witnessed. Perhaps American cinema’s recent hard luck has to do with a public that is totally desensitized to both fiction too bizarre to ever be reality and happenings, like those of The Departed, that probably actually occur.

    The Departed should definitely not be missed, but be warned that it is not a straightforward, weekend first date type of movie. It requires focus to understand the plot and the characters’ rapid changing motives and alliances.

    What makes it different from other mafia themed shows or flicks? The entire movie sets up a variety of ways for either opposing side to come out on top, constantly baffling the audience as to who to root for, and opening up so many paths for various predictable endings. But the resolve comes rapidly and is entirely unexpected, turning a masterpiece of characterization, the blurred lines of good and evil and the complexity of storytelling into a simple contrast between life and death.

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