A decade after the fact, who would've thought that The Departed would turn out to be one of Martin Scorsese’s most debated films? While many viewers believe that the film is a little too on-the-nose thanks to a certain rat who makes an appearance in the last scene, there are plenty of theories about The Departed that beg to differ; they offer up ideas about the subtext that courses through the film.
The most interesting thing about the movie isn’t the twist on the gangster story that Scorsese tells, but rather the sexuality in The Departed. Honestly, it's something that can be examined for hours. The biggest hang up about the film is the evidence Matt Damon is gay in The Departed, something that makes the film - a look at the hierarchy of the Boston crime world – even more complicated than it already is.
For all the gay bros out there, Colin Sullivan fan theories are infinitely entertaining. Matt Damon’s character takes cues directly out of the closeted jock playbook. Not only does he get way into using homophobic slurs, but his longing looks at his coworkers seem like something that’s more appropriate in an episode of One Tree Hill than in a Scorsese movie. But hey, they work. Damon’s undercover and in the closet routine adds a layer of subtext to this Infernal Affairs remake that gives audiences a reason to go back and watch with a new set of eyes.
What do you think? Is Detective Sullivan gay? Or is he just a man’s man who looks good in a suit?
According to Film Analysis and Interpretation, Scorsese's movie about crime in the fair city of Boston is all about committing to a lie in order to work undercover, no matter what that means. Which is exactly what Damon is doing in order to play the part of a straight arrow cop.
And not only that, but the film makes numerous references to places where it's not safe to be homosexual: The Catholic church, the world of organized crime, and Boston.
One of the biggest indicators that Matt Damon's character in The Departed is gay is the amount of time he spends overcompensating for any perceived chink in his super masculine armor. Specifically, when he's in conversation with Alec Baldwin's Ellerby. The conversation is essentially:
Ellerby: Marriage is an important part of getting ahead: lets people know you're not a homo; married guy seems more stable; people see the ring, they think at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch; ladies see the ring, they know immediately you must have some cash or your c*ck must work. [laughs]
Colin Sullivan: [laughing] Yeah, it's working... Overtime!
The theory is basically that someone who compensates that much about his junk working has to be lying about something.
You know the scene, the one where Damon meets up with Jack Nicholson's Frank Costello to talk about how the investigation is going and whether or not a mole has been discovered. In that scene they meet up at a XXX theater that's showing gay porn and Sullivan is visibly upset.
Could this be because he doesn't care to be seen in an establishment of ill-repute? Or is there something more to the way he's acting? One reader of The Dissolve seems to think there's something to this. "He's uncomfortable with meeting Nicholson in public, but he seems very bothered by the venue: a gay porno house. Then, in that scene, Nicholson startles him with a prosthetic penis."
One of the biggest neon arrows pointing to the possibility that Matt Damon's character just might be gay is that he doesn't seem very interested in having sex with his girlfriend Madolyn, played by Vera Farmiga. It could be that he's tired from leading a double life, or maybe work has him stressed, or (as the visual clue of a peeled banana seems to suggest) he's gay.