The best movie I've seen in Toronto thus far isn't even playing at the festival. Warner Bros. quietly invited a few journalists who are scheduled to interview Martin Scorsese via telephone next week to see The Departed, his remake of the 2002 Hong Kong police drama Infernal Affairs, about the cat-and-mouse games between an undercover cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) who infiltrates the mob and a mobster (Matt Damon) who infiltrates the Boston police force.
I'm not supposed to write too much about the movie yet, so I'll just say that anyone who's been waiting for Scorsese to return to form after the Oscar-baiting turgidness of The Aviator and Gangs of New York won't be disappointed. I don't know how The Departed will fare with Oscar voters: It's a cops-and-robbers genre piece, the kind of picture (The French Connection aside) Academy members tend to look down on for not being serious or weighty enough. But this is Scorsese's best and most invigorating work since the underrated Casino, if not GoodFellas, as well as his most sheerly entertaining.
DiCaprio and Damon both give career-high performances; Jack Nicholson, playing a mob kingpin, makes poetry out of his eloquently profane dialogue (his lines often reminded me of the dialogue in Deadwood); Vera Farmiga, as a psychiatrist, lives up to her hype as the Next Big Thing; and in smaller roles, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen are all aces. I had heard grumblings that the absence of The Departed from any of the big fall film festivals implied that the movie was probably a stinker. That may be the case with some other upcoming films, but The Departed is class-A pulp - grave, resonant, psychologically complex and acted to the skies. I can't wait to see it again.