Infernal Affairs starts with a quote from the Buddha regarding the nature of continuous hell being like hell, but goes on forever. This quote potentially exists merely to justify the otherwise relatively tortuous title. The title, like the film, is almost too clever for its own good. Luckily the title is also a little bit stupid, and when Infernal Affairs gets stupid it does it almost for the complete benefit of the viewer.
The logical extension of films like Donnie Brasco and Deep Cover, Infernal Affairs posits the effects of a mole in the police and an undercover cop would have on each others careers. There is much psychological grist in this mill, much of which the film lets us work out for ourselves. The films distrust of too much psychology is emphasized by the shrink whose office is merely used to sleep in. Instead we have two hours of will they, won’t they unmask each other, and have they turned good/bad/indifferent. I won’t spoil it for you, just suffice to say it plays the whole thing with a straight bat, straight face and has absolutely no idea how to treat its very minor female characters.
1) Girlfriend of cop (who is really a criminal but she doesn’t know that). Spends most of her time wafting around the film talking about the book she is writing about a bloke with multiple personalities (DYS).
2) The shrink. Exists to be dreamed about and be cut away from when they migt have sex.
3) The woman from the undercover cops life. The best non sequitur I have seen in years occurs halfway through Infernal Affairs, when the undercover cop bumps into an old flame. They chat briefly, but he is aware that she could blow his cover. He briefly looks wistful that she comes from a life he has sacrificed. He could have this wife, family, daughter. He walks off and the girl goes “Mummy, I’m six”, rather than the just turned five and therefore not your kid line that her mother had spun. Apropos to absoultely nothing….Great stuff.