07 October 2006

I'm pleased to announce that The Departed is the most satisfying American movie since...well, okay, The Illusionist. But The Illusionist, with its somewhat hermetic perfectionism, is vaguely European, while The Departed is a full-blooded American movie. Released under the old Warner Bros. logo, it's violent, incredibly entertaining, messy and rich in the details, but neat as mathematics in the whole, with a huge cast of stars, most of whom are doing their best work ever. In other words, it's a lot like L.A. Confidential, except that instead of making careers, it gives a new luster to established superstars, including Martin Scorsese. It's always hard to make predictions like this, but at the end of my life, when the tally is made, this may end up being the Scorsese movie that I watch more than any other.

Anyway, you probably don't need my encouragement to see this movie. Moreover, any litany of my favorite moments (Alec Baldwin grabbing his own balls to make a point; the penultimate scene's homage to the last shot of The Third Man) would rob you of the chance to discover them for yourself. Also, there are a lot of them, including the last five minutes, which go from lame to awesome to lame to sublime to awesome to inexplicable so quickly that it's like watching an entire Michael Mann movie in fast forward. My friends and I came out of the theater arguing about this, but for me, the conclusion works. Unlike the original Infernal Affairs, which closes on an ironic note, The Departed ends, as it should, with an elegant severing of the knot. Full stop. Like De Niro says at the end of Casino: that's that.

No comments: