• Daniel Rae

The Departed Review

"The Departed", Warner Bros., 2006

It's interesting to watch Scorsese look inward on the genre that he helped establish, exploring how individuals caught up in the system are systemically shaped in an emotionally engaging and refreshing way.

Through the mould a slow-burning screenplay, the director does a fantastic job at maintaining audiences' involvement through methodically punctuate characters that guide the pace of the film naturally. This is perfect for the humanist lens of the treatment - highlighting the hypocrisies justice system that enables the cultural divide between the Irish and American communities in Boston. Whilst this serves as an interesting change of style for a stylish auteur such as Scorsese, maintaining a more true urban feeling through depletion of bold colours that you may catch in "Goodfellas", the genre codes which navigates audiences are as cinema-feeling as "Goodfellas", such as with the polished camera movement and the "Good Cop, Bad Cop" relationship between Queenan and Dignam. The sheer amount of attention placed into underlining the power conflict of masculinity, cultural identity and respect that enables Frank's control span the conventional binaries of the genre to the intricate nuances - from the film-noir inspired low-key lighting that introduces Frank against the concrete backdrop of the city to the intricately-woven manifestation of ideologies represented through the compelling dynamic between the characters and the jolty narrative structure itself (in true elastic Scorsese fashion). The varying lines of identification we share that underscore different angles towards the moral dilemmas of power are not only owed in part to the brilliant cast, but also in part to the truly fantastic writing that brings the caricatures and tonal shifts the genre is crafted upon outside of the plane of fiction effortlessly, despite how much the stylish tangents in the story may draw attention to itself. All of this adds up to a true sense of raw vulnerability that plagues all the characters, which is achieved through the sympathy we share even with Damon's Sutherland, despite the cycle of corruption he is feeding into.

Grounded by the Nicholson's eccentric but steadfast "Frank" and the humanistic nature of the story itself that feeds into the psychological torment of identity being torn between individuality and social class, this film acts as a reminder of the dizzying emotional dynamics that can be achieved within the binaries of the crime/thriller genre.


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