I chose a scene from Martin Scorcese’s The Departed, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson. The movie is a crime thriller which follows the lives of DiCaprio’s character, Billy Costigan, and Damon’s Colin Sullivan. Costigan is a cop who is working undercover to help bring down notorious crime boss Frank Costello (who is loosely based on the criminal of the same name in real life). Meanwhile, Sullivan is also a cop, but he secretly works for Costello as his mole in the police department. Eventually, it becomes Costigan’s job not only to bring down Costello, but determine who his mole within the department is, while Sullivan is supposed to help Costello figure out who the rat in his crew is. Both characters are looking for each other. As the movie progresses, each character becomes increasingly paranoid, afraid of their true identities being revealed. The scene I chose is the first time the two characters speak to each other, or to put it better are actually in contact. I think the editing in this scene is extremely effective. The constant switching back and forth between Colin and Billy’s faces help illustrate how nervous each one is. A nervous Costigan is recieving a phone call from his dead mentor’s cellphone (for those of you who haven’t seen the movie the phone that Matt Damon’s character is holding belonged to a man who was murdered in the previous scene), while Colin realizes that he is now contacting the man who has been trying to find him for so long. The scene’s close up on their faces reveals each character’s fear. Also, the fact that each character is afraid to speak reveals their paranoia. Costigan already has a bag packed because of his paranoia of being discovered. Meanwhile, the scene helps address the social contexts of hidden identities within the film, how people are not really what they seem. It suggests that we need to be paranoid about who we can trust, because everyone can have hidden agendas. To everyone except for Costigan’s mentor and his assistant ( who are played by Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg), Costigan is a lowlife scumbag who commits crimes, while Colin Sullivan is the intelligent, honest man. When in fact, these roles are really reverse. Costigan does the right thing, and Sullivan is really the criminal. The movie points out that people aren’t always who they seem to be, and we have to be careful when deciding who to trust. This scene reminds me of The Manchurian Candidate, when Raymond Shaw discovers that his mother set him up to become a brainwashed assassin. The woman that was supposed to protect him and have his best interests at heart, betrayed him. She had her own secret agenda. I believe the two films are similar because they send the same messages of trust and paranoia.
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