Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
Runtime: 146 minutes
As far as I am aware of, I think this is the most hailed movie of Martin Scorsese, along with Raging Bull and Taxi Driver.
The movie is about Henry Hill a man who, from his adolescence to his adult years, was always a gangster. He loved being a gangster, since he gets a lot of benefits from it. In his gangster life, he has been accompanied by two men – Jimmy Conway, a very calm man, and on the other hand, Tommy DeVito, a very hotheaded man. He was also a devoted man of an influential man in the gang – Paul Cicero.
Eventually, in his life, he meets a beautiful but undeniably loud woman, Karen. They get married, but he was never been honest with her, since he introduced himself a a man in the line of construction. But she had a feeling he was not a gangster. And, as usual for a gangster, he had other girlfriends. He started having problems with her family, she finds out that he keeps another girl, and she proclaims that she is a whore.
Problems really build up though when he started selling cocaine. Cocaine gives him and his family bundles of money, but he was never safe. He is always in danger. And the slow fall of the gangster is really coming.
So, I can understand the love for it. And I say it, the film was….. breathtaking.
And it’s everything about the direction of Scorsese.
Scorsese knows how to handle the material. I can say that the film itself is complicated, and to make it seam really flawless is just genius. He knows the boundaries, he knows the limitations, his direction doesn’t overdo the thing nor oversimplifies it. He makes the movie complicated yet understandable. and what’s the best thing about it? He doesn’t make a false move in this. T
hese kinds of films are the ones that can turn the directors on and they want to make it big and, in the process, it comes as messy, unfocused, or even pointless. Scorsese knows the focus – it’s about Henry. And he doesn’t try to get away with it. He understands the character so well that he doesn’t make any false impressions for the character and so, for the other characters.
He also builds up things so well. Right from the adolescent years, Scorsese knows that Henry is demented for doom – the character made very wrong things and he is right there, going to be damned. But he makes him very human that we connect to him. He worships the gang, but aside from that, he wants to make himself one of them. And Scorsese knows that.
Maybe I’m using the word know too frequently. But that’s the best thing to say – Scorsese knows how to make this movie great. So it’s a very well-directed movie.
And his moment to shine? The legendary Steadicam shot. This sweeping, one-shot view of the gangster world is the best scene in the movie, invoking the feeling of overwhelming ecstasy one might feel as a gangster’s girl. It’s a stroke of brilliance from the director. He gets the chance to convey what really gangster life is and what are the benefits of being a gangster is that you don’t need to wait in a queue to get a seat in a bar. In this part, we get Karen’s point of view – this woman fascinated of this fact. It’s captivating and it will leave you breathless.
The screenplay knows it all. The guys who wrote movie knows the world of gangsters, knows the characters, knows how to make them really humane, knows that they’re not perfect, knows to make them real and three-dimensional, knows the atmosphere, knows how to move the plot forward. Maybe that’s also the best adjective to describe the screenplay: all-knowing.
The acting was all the way class. Robert DeNiro, having also a great performance in the also-nominated movie Awakenings, is great as Jimmy Conway. The character keeps his emotions inside him as much as possible, but he also has the tendency to become real violent. And he plays it so well. A supporting actor nomination is needed!
Joe Pesci as the hotheaded gangster Tommy DeVito is superb as the character. His character is a ticking time bomb, he just likes to shout the f-word. He’s funny, but we know that when he’s agitated, he’ll just get his gun and shoot. And he makes most of it. But he knows how to make him humane, he may be a psychopathic killer, but he can still hold himself up as a human being. The character is a danger to actors – it could have been the hammy and overdone acting, but Pesci settles for the beautifully-handled acting.
I don’t like Ray Liotta the guy. But I can’t deny that he was great here. He is different from the other guys. And he should be. He is the only gangster that weh know where he came from. He was just once a simple lad who dreamed big. And until his adult years, he still have the attitude even if he already was transformed into a real gangster. He is confident, he is somewhat overconfident at times, but he remains the humbleness with his friends from the gang. And he understand the character. So, even tough I dislike the actor, I like his performance.
Lorraine Bracco was fabulous as Karen Hill. Her early scenes perfectly describe what it really is to be somewhat new in this life. And I didn’t mind her loud voice. Her character is loud, and it fits so well. But her best parts doesn’t kick in until the last half of the movie. When she’s great, well, she amazing. She carries such emotions that she’s like a lost kitten in this world of dogs. And when she’s desperate in flushing the bag of cocaine down the toilet? Or when she debates with her husband about her flushing it away? Or when she doubts Jimmy about going into the dark hallway? All beautifully acted by her.
The other members of the cast are headstrong perfect. The technical part is also awesome. The cinematography was excellent, the editing was flawless, the sound helped a lot, the music set the mood for the film, the costume was appropriate, the art direction brings it to the next level. The music, especially. The way the rock songs mix with this rather harsh world is just so weird yet so great.
The movie is near perfect. But I was looking for one thing: subtlety. I guess that’s really why I can’t love it to the fullest. I wholeheartedly say that the movie is classic and it’s an alltime best, but sumehow, there was either no or very little subtlety.
For this, the movie gets:
What are your thoughts, dear reader?