The Departed is a Martin Scorcese film which follows the lives of half a dozen men who may or may not be undercover cops within crime syndicates and double-dealing cops answering to the crime bosses. The movie itself is fairly well done, with characters you couldn’t help relate to no matter how murky they got, or what heinous things they did to cover their tracks.
The problem I had was the character of Madolyn. She’s introduced as a psychiatrist within the police department. She quickly starts up a flirtation with rising star Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). I was impressed with the way the relationship was handled; a flirtation, a date, a morning after, a throwaway references to the longterm relationship. Just enough information to know they’re together and it’s serious. Meanwhile, she continues her job – she gets more screentime working in a professional capacity thAn she does with Damon – with one of her other patients a deeply undercover cop – she thinks he’s an ex cop who got thrown out – Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio).
So far, so good. The “˜girlfriend’ character has spent more time in a professional context thAn she has as the “˜girlfriend’, and her dynamics with Sullivan and Costigan have done a lot to further character arcs and the general storyline. She’s not just something pretty for Sullivan to go home to after he’d done a hard day’s work.
Except then she sleeps with Costigan. He comes over to her apartment – while she’s in the middle of packing up to move in with Sullivan, no less – they talk, then they end up in bed.
And not just that – while I was impressed Scorcese didn’t go to the effort of raunchy bedroom scenes to tell us Madolyn and Sullivan were together, they did this with Madolyn and Costigan. This to me says that the titillation of betrayal was much more interesting thAn the act of sex itself.
And they never bother to explain Madolyn’s motives. Costigan was pretty screwed up, which was good enough explanation for him, IMHO, but Madolyn was in a longterm relationship, not to mention that little thing about him being her patient. Was she having second thoughts about moving in with Sullivan? Was she actually a double-dealing tramp using her connections in the Boston PD to help organised crime? They could have been possibilities, but the storyline was abandoned as soon as the deed was done. Madolyn moves in with Sullivan, and cuts off all ties with Costigan. Their relationship continues on as if nothing happened.
On top of that, she later becomes pregnant, and because it’s difficult to establish a timeline, I was wondering about paternity. Again, this is something they didn’t bother to deal with. Given the underlying themes of the movie were loyalty and betrayal, Madolyn’s actions could have been worked in quite well – instead, after a good start of being a professional woman who happens to be in a longterm relationship, she gets marginalised to “˜the girlfriend’ who cheats on her boyfriend for the sake of cheap and pointless titillation.