Kiki Penoyer plays a drinking game that goes out of control while watching Best Picture-winner The Departed, imparting Sasquatch memories, sharing increasingly incomprehensible notes, and ticking off the film’s minuscule number of female characters.
I’m trying something a little different for this round of 10YA. Rather than watching a film supposedly for women and picking apart all the terrible ways in which women are portrayed, I decided to pick a film with virtually NO women! What could go wrong!
(Spoilers: there are women in this movie. I counted them. We will discuss them in a moment.)
In all seriousness, The Departed is on my husband’s very particularly curated list of Top Ten Favorite Films, which is why I picked it; I figured it would be a good excuse for a movie night, and an opportunity to have a critical discussion about a film which is largely considered to be one of the greatest films ~*ever*~ with one of its diehard fans. He showed it to me once in college, and we were not sober, and up until this rewatch, I had zero memories of the ending of this movie and very few of any other part of it. I remember Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon fucking up a bunch of shit with a lot of other white dudes in Boston, but that’s about it.
The real reason I care about this movie has almost nothing to do with this movie at all. At the 2013 Sasquatch! Music Festival, the Dropkick Murphys were playing a set on like the third day. At our campsite that morning, surrounded by a group of people who would all eventually either be in or at our wedding, our friend Jamie asks if anyone has anything they are diehard about seeing that day, since we’re all feeling the effects of being fucked up for a full weekend already and we’re trying to gage how to pace ourselves for the next day and a half. Someone mentions that definitely we need to see Dropkick, because duh. Jamie asks us who that is; the dudes in the group all start talking over each other about how they’re the band from The Depahted (which is how we will be exclusively referring to this movie from here on out, with proper Boston accent in place). Jamie, annoyed, insists “No one even knows that song.”
From the corner, Miles, who has been silent all morning, goes “Duh dun. ….Duh dun.” And Asa goes “BWOOOOOOW,” in his best interpretation of the guitar. And suddenly, literally the entire campsite breaks into a loud, enthusiastic a capella version of “Shipping Up to Boston,” much to Jamie’s absolute irritation. This continues to be one of my favorite memories of all time, and I still giggle out loud every time I think about it.
To up the stakes on this viewing, my husband suggested we play it as a drinking game. I’m a sucker for a good drinking game, so I agreed. The rules are simple: one drink every time anyone says the word “fuck” or “rat.” Bonus points if you drink for every death and/or ethnic slur.
Needless to say, this is about to be the least coherent 10YA I’ve ever done. I’m including two images of my notes in this review. This is the first page, from the beginning of the night.
When we get to the end, I will share with you how my note-taking ability deteriorated. Stay tuned!
The Depahted is basically about every white guy in Hollywood getting together to cause problems and say demeaning things about women. Some of them are cops, and some of them are criminals. As Jack Nicholson mentions, “When you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference.” One of them is a cop pretending to be a criminal, and another is a criminal pretending to be a cop. One of them is President Jed Bartlett. Nobody is really a good guy or a bad guy, because everyone’s an unlikeable asshole. Most of them die. Here’s a recap:
Jack Nicholson is the Vito Corleone of Boston, but with none of Vito’s charisma or sense of family values. He utters great lines like “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”
First woman sighting: a teenage girl at what looks like a gritty version of the convenience store from Juno. Her name is Carmen. She has no lines. Jack Nicholson asks her about her period and tells her to buy makeup. She is not allowed to respond to this. A Freakishly Accurate Child Version of Oscar Winner Matt Damon sees this and decides he would like to grow up to be a gritty misogynist as well; Jack Nicholson’s ego is fed by this and he more or less adopts Child Matt Damon, and grooms him to become a tool in his empire. Matt grows up and joins the police force, largely to be an inside man for Jack Nicholson and to spy on the activities of Police Chief Jack Donaghy. (Someone has informed me that this man’s real name is Alec Baldwin, but I refuse to acknowledge this.) Super Intense Leonardo DiCaprio also joins the academy, and I think it’s because he’s from a family of criminals and trying to rise above, but we’re twenty minutes into the movie and I’m already two beers in, so I’m a little hazy on the details. President Jed Bartlett and his sidekick, Mark Wahlberg, say a bunch of classist shit to Leo and strong-arms him into becoming their inside guy in Jack Nicholson’s operation. The most interesting thing about this is that of all the charming white men in this movie, Mark Fucking Wahlberg is the most charismatic and interesting of the lot of them, and he’s also the source of one entire beer’s worth of drinks in a six-minute scene. From here on out, my husband and I start referring to him loudly as Mahky Mahk every time he enters the shot. I’m really grateful none of you were there for this, because I’m sure I was very annoying.
Second woman sighting: President Jed Bartlett’s secretary, who congratulates Matt Damon on his interview; he gives her a condescending “Thanks, Hon.” We do not learn her name.
Third woman sighting: some woman named Donna. I think she’s Matt’s superior. We meet her butt before we meet her; Matt whistles at it, she gives him a disgusted look, but because she got a name, she doesn’t also get a line. Women may have EITHER a name OR a line, but not both. This is confirmed in the fourth Woman Sighting, wherein someone’s mom is shown being briefly strangled while semi-naked; she doesn’t get a line either, because she got a name, and the old ladies at her funeral get to cry but not speak.
Leonardo “I’m not a fuckin’ Cawp” DiCaprio goes to meet with his shithead drug-dealing cousin, Professor Professorson from Community, and gets introduced to some of Jack Nicholson’s higher-ups. Everyone mocks him for drinking cranberry juice, and they do so by asking if he’s on his period. Toxic masculinity hurts everyone. Leo responds—reasonably, I think—by putting a glass through the side of the offending asker’s head. My joy is momentary, as he gets the same shitty period question later from Jack’s second-in-command and it’s a punchline, so whatever. You did what you could, Leo. #GlassThePatriarchy
The only woman in this whole movie who gets more than one line is Vera Farmiga. Matt Damon flirts with her by demeaning her profession, and it works, and when we actually get to see her doing her job, she’s really fucking bad at it. She is Leo’s shrink, and Leo is having a meltdown because he’s afraid for his life and doesn’t want to do this job, and she gets super flustered and admits that he is exhibiting drug-seeking behavior and she might be giving him enough to kill himself but she’s so demolished by his (actually incredibly mild for the circumstances) demeanor that she gives in to what he wants and panics and says she can’t treat him anymore. I can’t help but feel that a psychiatrist working for cops would be used to a guy having a hard time sleeping and getting kind of aggro about his fear of dying, so I’m kind of annoyed on her behalf. She is also afraid of dessert and needs Matt Damon to make the first move on it so she knows it’s okay to eat. Legitimately what is she adding to this film? Nothing, because we’re not letting her; she is literally just a sex toy for Matt Damon (and, spoilers, eventually Leo also.) I know Vera Farmiga is capable of much better work than this, and I’m disappointed at how she was used.
But at least she got lines. Woman 6 is a nurse with no lines. Women 7 and 8 have lines, but are discussing a man, and they don’t get names. Still no Bechdel pass, and yet this is the closest we get, and is the only time in the movie any two women are on screen at the same time, much less conversing. Women 9-12 are all just naked drawings on Jack Nicholson’s walls, but I’m counting them because they get about as much dimension and screen time as the physical women in the film. Some of them actually get more.
Shit starts to get intense, Matt Damon’s wearing a lot of eye shadow, Leo beats a guy’s face in for reaching for his cigarettes and somehow this is what reassures Jack Nicholson that Leo is not a cop? Woman 13 is a nun in a miniskirt (no lines). When one of Jack’s operatives gets caught, Matt Damon pulls some Law & Order shit and pretends to be his attorney in order to sneakily help the guy alert the other operatives that the cops are on their way. When the guys bail, they torch the house, and we get a brief shot of the Hang in There! Kitten poster, and that so far is my favorite part of the movie. Woman 14 is Jack Nicholson’s personal sex worker. She speaks at one point, so she doesn’t get a name, or any facts other than she exists to fawn on Jack Nicholson.
Police Chief Jack Donaghy almost catches Jack Nicholson, but Matt Damon foils this plot with the clever use of a Nokia Flip Phone. I’m actually kind of enjoying how texting/cell phone usage is such a huge part of the plot, since this is one of the first major gangster movies to have that technology, and it’s interesting to watch how it’s used. This alerts Leo that there is a rat (drink) in Matt’s department, and he will spend the rest of the film trying to find that person. Jack Nicholson becomes suspicious he has a rat as well, and makes everyone fill out a W2, which Leo very maturely refuses to do; after Matt collects them all from the boss at a movie theatre (Woman 15: the actress in the porno being shown; no name or lines) in order to run names at the station, Leo follows him and attempts to ID him. This is very hard, because every single man in Boston is a white guy that resembles Matt Damon, so we can’t really blame him for not being able to sort this out.
By this point in the viewing, I’m on Beer #5 and my notes have gone from my kind-of-bad-but-generally-legible handwriting to something that I think I thought was words at the time, but more closely resemble what I bet happens if you break a Spirograph. I can’t read any of them. If you want to know what happens in the rest of The Depahted, you can Wiki that shit. This part was mostly slurs against women and men yelling at each other about whether or not they’re cops. Anyway, President Jed Bartlett gets murdered, Mahky Mahk gets really upset, Leo figures out what’s up, Vera Farmiga finds out Matt’s an asshole and I guess she leaves, Matt Damon finds out Jack Nicholson has been an FBI informant this entire time and didn’t tell him, everyone shoots everyone else, and I think Mahky Mahk is the only person who survives this film. If anyone else does, I have no idea, and you’ll have to forgive me, but here are my notes.
Listen, this is objectively a really “good” movie. There are so many lines in the screenplay that are so fucking classic, and that makes me all the angrier at how often we resort to wasting my time with harassing women and using the word “pussy” as an insult. Yes, I get it: This is the culture, we’re trying to establish who these people are, but I’m just fatigued by it. I’m tired of having to agree that a movie is really good, but the depictions of women are just more of the same damaging bullshit that everyone else is doing. Like, honestly, I would’ve liked this movie better if there WERE no women in it. If we took all those women out, this film would be better, because at least we could JUST watch this complicated character study of these men and not be weighed down by how AWFUL these depictions of ladies are. It’s just so tiring. It’s beautiful filmmaking and really sharp screenwriting and THIS IS THE BEST FILM SOUNDTRACK EVER OKAY, and it was a lot of fun to watch and makes for a really good drinking game. Everything about it is well-crafted. It’s enjoyable. It’s a good movie. Or at least, I think it is. I’m having a lot of complicated feelings about this whole thing, honestly.
I just wish there could be spaces in good movies for ladies. I don’t think that’s asking a whole lot, is it?
Anyway, here’s Mark Wahlberg getting nominated for an Oscar.