by Jenina Singh, staff writer
|The plot is intriguing and full of ambiguity.
Revolving around two moles, undercover operatives, one in the
FBI and one in the Costello mob; the FBI agent, Sullivan, is
a mob plant. The mob mole, Costigan, is an undercover cop. Each
needs to expose the other before their own identities are exposed.
The opening shows scenes of Boston, with narration by Jack Nicolson’s
character, Frank Costello, mob boss for Boston’s Irish
mafia. He preaches that he doesn’t want to be a product
of his environment, but he wants his environment to be a product
of his action: if you want something in this country, it’s
not going to be handed to you, he says: “You gotta take
He continues: “When I was growing up, they told us you were either a cop
or a criminal.” As his face is finally shown for the first time, emerging
from a faded silhouette, he adds: “I say, when you’re facing a loaded
gun, what’s the difference?”
The main protagonists are Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan
(Matt Damon). Both are pretending to be something they’re not, lying about
who they really are, killing people, and helping the bad guys for different reasons.
Damon plays Sullivan, the FBI agent loyal to Costello. The moment the FBI team
is about to make a move on Costello, Sullivan calls Costello; pretending to talk
to his father, Sullivan warns the mob.
Costigan was born into a Mafia family, but tries to escape his environment, which
is his big handicap in becoming a Massachusetts state trooper. Costigan has an
uncle involved with the mob, a cousin who deals cocaine, and other criminal relatives.
He seizes an opportunity to get into the FBI by going undercover for the special
investigative unit as a mole in Costello’s crew. When accepted by the mob,
Costigan performs murderous grunt work, beating up bookies, and even killing
those who don’t pay up.
Both FBI and the mob suspect a mole in their group, and everyone is trying to
find “the rat,”especially Sullivan and Costigan, who desperately
try to find each other before they get killed.
Two scenes in the movie take place at funerals, one towards the beginning of
the movie, one towards the end. At the first funeral, there is a set of flowers
from Costello with a card that has Mother Mary on it along with a statement that
is later reiterated by the priest at the second funeral. It says, “Heaven
holds the faithful departed.”
Several moments in the movie show Sullivan’s character staring regretfully
at the church where he once was an altar boy. Costigan’s character has
similar moments when he looks at pictures of his childhood with his parents.
Both characters long for what they once had, what they once were, and what they
left behind. Sullivan and Costigan have become “the departed.”
The two moles, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and Billy Costigan
(Leonardo DiCaprio), meet in a confrontation to expose each