Let’s not talk about the violence (just yet) or the fun I had writing a paper on Scorsese 19 years ago; let’s talk about the boyfriend flashbacks I had while watching “The Departed”.
The men who populate “The Departed” – fast talking cops and double agents, plus a few slower minded thugs – sent me reeling, feeling for my grounding the way one feels for lost keys in a dimly lit room. In the dialogue, my ears found the Boston-Irish of my childhood through 20’s, the smart-ass , take-no-prisoners-or-breaths repartee, sharp charm, and the cruelty. Casual interpersonal cruelty.
I could remember at least one charmer who swept me off my feet. It started small but sparkling; like many promising things do. Great dancer, great verbal repartee, self-assurance, swagger and rhythm in everything he did. And just when I thought I would be sprinting to the moon in love, I got kneecapped. The shock (yes, I actually went into it) lasted for a moment; then the collapse; then the downward spiral of tearful “Why?” (Try not to imagine Nancy Kerrigan.)
Later, the question burned in the back of my throat, smoking, caustic. The hope that, while he had demonstrated nasty personal cruelties towards others, he’d make me the exception, that I would be granted an amnesty of personal tenderness. We both recognized his terrible power, and now I hoped he’d promise to never use it on me again. Ok, a little melodramatic, but not atypical of one’s heartbreak in the 20’s.
Recently, I remarked to a friend that, after 30, I outgrew the men whose kindness and respect were withheld, or who showed disrespect. In retrospect, I think I just got lucky, then forgot the self-destructive mindset and heartbreak… until that dialogue kicked in, and I found myself hoping to be the treasured exception to a stranger’s rule. I glanced down to make sure my rings – no claddaugh – were still there.
Yes, go see it. It is a great film.