Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Departed

Martin Scorsese has spent his life as a filmmaker, spinning yarns of violent men and their violent ways. Deeply religious, as well as spiritual, Scorsese has always found a way of finding the thimbles of humanity in his ruffians. He has shown us his roots (Mean Streets, Gangs of New York), his formative years (Goodfellas), his heroes, anti-heroes and inspirations (Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun, The Aviator). He has taken us to darkly comic places (After Hours, The King of Comedy), and he has shown us the bowels of hell (Bringing Out the Dead, Cape Fear, Taxi Driver). But he's always managed to find those kernels of the human condition in even his most flawed characters.

The Departed is a uniquely realized vision in the entirety of Scorsese's career. It has, on the surface, some of his most blatantly heroic and absurdly evil characters ever. But layered between the skins of this complex creation are also his most decidedly human characters. This is an extraordinarily complicated narrative, one that only a filmmaker of Scorsese's age and experience could pull off, but frankly, The Departed is much more than that. It's the culmination of a lifelong examination of men and their violent ways. Stunningly rigorous in its execution, The Departed is, in my estimation, possibly the finest film Scorsese has ever made. It's a breathless masterpiece, one that stuns with its ruminations and shocks with its nihilism.

I've never been so moved, sickened and excited by one of Scorsese's films. I was constantly enthralled and always stunned by the depths to which Mr. Scorsese was willing to travel. The Departed is a brilliant, important, moving cinematic expression of the poetry and tragedy in man's heart of darkness.