Newest Review: ... boss. He instantly takes to life as a gangster. "I was treated like a grown up. I was living a fantasy... At 13, I was making more mo... more
GoodFellas - The Henry Hill biopic.
Member Name: TimListfield
Advantages: One of the most entertaining and insightful
Though not Martin Scorsese's best film (That goes to Raging Bill), this is by far his most entertaining and most popular film. This is based on the true story of a gangster called Henry Hill who started out at the lowest rank a gangster could be and rose through the Mafia until he began to use his own drugs and ended up becoming a mess to the point where the police and FBI were able to use him to get convictions, and he ended up in the Witness Protection Program.
The film stars Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent and Paul Sorvino as the so called 'GoodFellas'.
At the start, we meet a young Henry Hill who has just got his foot in the door of the Mafia. He spends his time doing small jobs for the gangs and ends up skipping school. After his father finds out about him skipping school, young Henry gets a beating and we start to understand why the allure of the Mafia was so strong. He also meets a young Tommy DeVito, who goes on to become very psychotic and disturbed.
We the cut to Henry Hill as he is older, and now he is more involved in crime. He works a lot with Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino) who is a capo/captain in the Mafia. He also does a lot of work with Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and Jimmy 'The Gent' Conway (Robert De Niro), including truck hijacking and the famous Air France Robbery of 1967.
Henry also marries a woman called Karen (Lorraine Bracco), who is attracted to his bad boy persona. And we watch sometimes with horror as she herself becomes more and more like him more and more depressed by it all.
Soon though, we see Tommy, Jimmy and Henry beat up Mafia 'made man' (an untouchable) and kill him. That's something they shouldn't have done, and slowly they begin to unravel as the Mafia want revenge. At the same time, they are all involved in the drugs trade and the FBI are also closing in, leading to an inevitable, but never the less fulfilling climax.
This really is one of the best gangster films of all time. Though it's not as epic as the Godfather is, and it doesn't have the style that White Heat with James Cagney had, it does benifit from a superb, fast paced script and some fabulous acting. Not to mention Scorsese's outstanding direction.
Ray Liotta actively fought for the role of Henry Hill because he wanted it so much. And he does a fantastic job with it. He really shows Henry Hill as a gangster you love to hate, and as a man who went too far and paid the price.
Robert De Niro adds his ever master touch of acting as Jimmy 'The Gent', and really captures the audience as we witness him getting older. He always excels in his roles, and this is no exception.
But the man who steals this is Joe Pesci, who is on unbelievable form as the psycho Tommy DeVito (watch out for the famous restaurant scene where he seemingly loses his temper). He really steals every scene that he's in, never overplaying the role of the psychopath. He is at times totally terrifying, yet he's often subtle until he finally loses his temper
There is also stunning support from Lorraine Bracco as Henry's wife, Paul Sorvino and Frank Vincent in his small but memorable role. None of the actors can compete with Pesci, though.
This film also benifits from a screenwriter who had knowledge of the Mafia, a Director who lived on the streets of New York and understands it, and the help of Henry Hill himself, who was able to advise on the film at times. The result is just a stunning, fast paced biopic of one of the most known foot soldiers of any gang.
Summary: Just a stunning Gangster film, and one of my personal favourites.