The first two R-rated movies I saw in theatres were The Departed, and No Country for Old Men. I think after that it was riff-raff — I never saw Slumdog Millionaire in the theatre. But imagine my surprise when both of those movies won Best Picture, these violent, out-there flicks about drugdealers and bad men.
The surprise for everyone else was that Scorsese finally won that Oscar, but for this? Not Goodfellas, not Taxi Driver, not Raging Bull? This somewhat off-hand movie about the Irish mob in Boston, a remake of a Chinese movie, and a vehicle for stars who look like Leo, Matt Damon, Mark Whalberg — Matt Damon, Mark Whalberg, and Leo?
So I was thirteen when I saw this, and found the plot confusing because I couldn’t tell these three guys apart. It’s a story about juggling identities, so while the suspense and headache of that premise got across, what tickled me more was the incessant swearing and violence so blunt it was cartoony.
Everybody loves that elevator scene, not just for the lols, but because it ignites an even more lolarious series of executions, all rendered in classic Scorsese brutality.
Is this even a good movie? I contend yes, although certainly it’s not Scorsese canon among purists, and Infernal Affairs is a better film. Even still, it’s a movie where people with Boston accents say things like “Somethin’ just came uff the fuckin’ roof,” and “Cwanberry juice,” and “My name is Singh… motherfucker.” Well, I guess that last one didn’t have a Boston accent, but nobody really does — least of which Vera Farmiga.
Oh, the lols (I know it’s lulz) keep rolling in, just reminiscing. It was a pure treat to see this film on the big screen at a ripe young age, and it remains a hugely entertaining crime-comedy-drama without the thematic and spiritual weight of Infernal Affairs, but the same intriguing story playing out in new strokes.
Those strokes. The Leo going buckwild on two Italian gangsters in Singh’s shop, the Mark Whalberg, the weird way Ray Winstone punches that guy out in the bar… To me, The Departed is a series of uplifting sequences, replete with all the F-words you can handle, and a quirky sense of direction (watered-down style) applied to the mildly mean streets of Scorsese’s Boston.
Although several Boston movies would follow in its wake, none would match its distinct voice — The Town least of all — although The Social Network was pretty good. But… not really the same thing.