Filmmaking Directory Screenplays : The Portal For Screenwriters, Filmmakers, and Actors Filmmaking Blogs Screenwriting Message Board
Directory Screenplays   Blogs Message Board
     Ask         Film News      Tips      Screenwriting      Store      Literary Agents     Production Companies

Film Reviews ....

Write a Crime Thriller Like The Departed

By Elaine Radford
The Departed
In the intricately-structured crime drama, The Departed, ironic plot twists reveal the true nature of the characters. These twists show
that a person’s fate is tied to loyalty. That is the theme.

We see irony in the actions of the main characters, among whom are Irish mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), Sgt. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Madolyn (Vera Farmiga), a police department psychiatrist.

The villain, Irish mob boss Frank Costello, is an anti-hero. He’s
a powerful, frightening character whose cunning and warped personality dominates. Nicholson plays Costello so well that we forget he’s acting a part. He’s central to this story, driving the plot forward with his runaway crime sprees and secret deals with police detectives assigned to stop him.

Sgt. Colin Sullivan, a detective from the Special Investigation Unit of the Massachusetts State Police, secretly works for Costello. In one scene, Sullivan warns Costello, saying: “Frank, for me, you’ve got to lay low.” Costello tells Sullivan, “Laying low is not what I do.”

Sullivan is trusted by the police department. So he works relentlessly to uncover the identity of the police mole inside Costello’s crime circle. That mole is hero Billy Costigan, an undercover Massachusetts cop who was hired to infiltrate the Irish mafia.

Ironies abound in the love affairs too. Billy has an affair with Sullivan’s girlfriend, Madolyn, theLeonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson in The Departed police psychiatrist. While Billy knows that Sullivan is her lover and boyfriend, he nevertheless tells her: “You’re the only person I can trust.”

If not for the unpredictable events and the unforgettable villain, this film would be just another good-cop, bad-cop story. Mounting suspense and unexpected plot twists make it stand out as a crime drama.

Screenwriter William Monahan’s character development in The Departed is outstanding, and the pace never slackens as suspense escalates and the story catapults to a surprising resolution.

Crisp, sharp, often very funny, dialogue is peppered heavily with strong language. It’s no wonder that The Departed won so many awards this year, including Best Picture, Best Director for Martin Scorsese, Best Film Editing for Thelma Schoonmaker, and
Best Adapted Screenplay for William Monahan. The screenplay was adapted from a Hong Kong hit thriller, Infernal Affairs.

To write a crime thriller screenplay, use the following guidelines:

  1. Create a fictional story based on a true crime. Newspapers, magazines, TV news, and Web sites such as can provide an abundant supply of true stories.

  2. After selecting a real-life event worth dramatizing, determine how you can shape that event to create a suspenseful plot with unexpected twists. Ask yourself, “What if” questions, such as “What if this happened instead of what really happened?”

  3. Who is the protagonist (hero)? Who is the antagonist (villain)? What is his goal? Write detailed descriptions of the protagonist and the antagonist. Identify the main flaw of each of these main characters.

  4. What is the protagonist’s goal? How does this lead to a confrontation with the villain? What is the main conflict? What obstacles must the protagonist overcome to reach his goal?

  5. When does the story take place? What is the time period and how does it relate to the conflict?

  6. Where does the story take place? Describe the location and why it is an important part of the story.

  7. Why does the hero confront the villain and end up in a conflict with him?

Site Map   About Us   Q&A   Directory   Classifieds   Contact Us   Bookmark Us   Article Feeds Article Feeds
©Copyright 2003-2007 Portable Shopper, LLC. All rights reserved. Copyright Notice   Privacy Statement