In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”


Winter Sleep

The running time of his new picture Winter Sleep, three hours and change, suggests weight, but at it happens, this movie struck me as both…


Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

Other Reviews
Review Archives

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…


Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Brokeback Jack and the gay "Departed"?


Nicholson's gangster... in a straight jacket?

When I was in college, it was popular for English professors to insist that this character or that character in literature -- or even the authors themselves -- were what we used to call "latent homosexuals." So, for example, Hamlet (who definitely had some mommy problems and daddy issues and treated Ophelia like an old dishrag) was maybe gay. And homoerotic undertones were found in novels (and private letters) by nearly everybody, but especially repressed Victorian writers.

So, when I received a comment from a Scanners reader suggesting that Jack Nicholson's character, Frank Costello, in the (Oscar-winning) Martin Scorsese (Best) Picture, "The Departed," might be read as gay, I thought: "Yeah, OK, sure." And then I thought about it a little more and started laughing: "Well, yeah, of course!" Not that it's any great revelation -- especially for a director who's known for displaying rampant homoeroticism (in his "gangster pictures," especially) -- but there it is. (You think the Academy was subconsciously trying to make up for last year's surprise upset of "Brokeback Mountain"?) I mean, look at the guy's wardrobe.

And consider the final (R-rated) scene between Costello and his girlfriend, Gwen, which struck me as having some negative sexual tension:

Sweetheart, you’re giving me a hard- on.

He starts to dial the phone.


Are you sure it's me or all that talk about whiffin’ and crawlin’ up asses?


Hey, watch your f---king mouth.


You watch it.

She rises and as she crosses:


 Let me straighten you out.

Here's part of the comment from Tam (and DVC mentioned it, too):

Costello and Sullivan [Matt Damon's character] are closeted homosexuals. There are so many implications of this in the movie, although subtle... Remember Costello raising some eyebrows at the restaurant with the priests? Yep, he was molested as a kid by a priest and his distaste toward the Catholic Church is evidence of this. Also, the scene right before Costello is shot and killed by Sullivan, if you remember the dialogue, Sullivan made it very clear that he was no "son" to Costello. "All that murderin' and f--kin'......." Just rewind your dvds to that scene.


Don we now our gay apparel?

I also researched this movie in depth and it seems that "The Departed" is part based on Irish crime lord, James "Whitey" Bulger's life. Most aspects of Whitey's life mirror the movie... [It] is documented that "Whitey" was [allegedly] bisexual and even had a relationship with FBI agent, H. Paul Rico. Back to the movie, remember when Costello had one of his many mistresses in the room and he threw out some cocaine onto the bed and told her to "get numb," -- well, by the position of their bodies, we can assume the obvious. [Note: Although Bulger has been photographed as recently as last February "dressed up like one of the Village People and ready to play" and "campier than a row of tents" (both descriptions courtesy of the Sunday Mirror he has eluded arrest by the FBI for a dozen years now and remains at large.]


Well people, you make your own opinions as I've made mine. Love the movie, I don't really care about the subtle hints of homosexuality in the film, I just find it incredibly genius of Mr. Scorsese's sneaking it in there.

Anybody else notice more evidence in the film that might support such a reading? If so, what do you think it adds to the movie? (Most important: We know Costello sports a dildo in a porno theater with Sullivan, but does he ever wear a blue hat...?)

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Ten Best Films of 2014

The ten best films of 2014, as chosen by the film critics of

10 Underrated Female Performances of 2014

Ten underrated female performances from 2014 worthy of Oscar consideration.

More on That Later: The Truth About “Serial”

Some thoughts on the hit podcast "Serial".

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus