MPAA Rated – R
It’s 2:01 Long
A Review by:
- The Dude on the Right
Movie Stats & Links
|Starring:||Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen, Anne Heche|
|Released By:||TriStar Pictures|
|Date Movie:||It’s a good drama so I’d say “Yes.”|
|Gratuitous Sex:||I never thought I could give such high praise to a movie with out seeing a nipple.|
|Gratuitous Violence:||It’s a Mob movie. Being such a couple people but bumped off.|
|Action:||No high speed car chased here. Just good drama.|
|Memorable Scene:||The scene that I thought was best shot and acted came near the end as Lefty prepares himself to go talk to the boss after being “called for.”|
|Memorable Quote:||I liked it when Lefty shows Donnie how a wiseguy carries his money and then pockets Donnie’s loot.|
|Directed By:||Mike Newell|
“Donnie Brasco:” Some people have criticized this movie for lacking direction and others have simply said it’s no “Goodfellas.” I’d have to say these people are right, but at that same time wrong.
You see “Goodfellas” was a movie that romanticized the Mafia lifestyle. It was like a Mob Enlistment movie. You know… “Top Guns for the Mafia.” All the icky, naughty, bad, illegal things the wiseguys did in Goodfellas looked real cool. Hell, I still joke about carrying a bag of lime in the back of my car to this day because of that movie. In the movie “Donnie Brasco,” however, we see a lot of the negative aspects of Mafia life. We see pressures like what it feels like to be in charge of a crew and have to worry about making the monthly payment to the boss, what it’s like to be a soldier and watch your every move, or what it’s like to be the boss and having to watch your own back. These are all negative aspects of being part of the Mafia and it’s these things that the movie “Donnie Brasco” brings to light. So yeah, “Donnie Brasco” is no “Goodfellas.”
As far a direction goes, director Mike Newell was handed a real challenge. He was given a movie that does not put on a high gloss polish on a lifestyle that a lot of people idolize. He was also given some very fussy actors. Al Pacino is a movie legend and also has a reputation as being a perfectionist that likes to stick his nose in the wrong end of the lens. With his star power this could have been disastrous for any director. Yet Mike kept Al within his character and led Johnny Depp in, although not Oscar caliber, in a fine performance. The characters of Donnie and Lefty could have easily degraded into huge stereotypes but Mike narrowly sidestepped that pit fall.
Al Pacino stars as Bonanno family soldier “Lefty” Ruggiero, a cynical, aging hit-man who never made it into the big-time. So if it was well directed but no “Goodfellas,” what the hell is it all about? The simplest way to but it is that “Donnie Brasco” is a movie about relationships. In the central aspect of the movie Johnny Depp portrays FBI Agent Joseph Pistone who has established himself in the mob as an undercover mole named Donnie Brasco. Through this we the viewer are taught the unwritten rules of edict and hierarchy of the Mafia, things like who you can and cannot screw with, what it takes to be part of a crew, and how to get promoted from there. That’s on the upside. On the downside you get to find that in the Mafia it’s usually your best friend that kills you. Donnie’s mentor in the Mafia is Lefty. Lefty, portrayed by Al Pacino, is a mob soldier that has been humping for nearly 30 years and has risen to little fame or recognition. When he stumbles upon Donnie he sees hope for a better future for himself through Donnie. Lefty teaches and shows Donnie all the right moves and it’s Donnie that gets ahead and poor old Lefty is still marking time in the same place. Finally, near the end of the movie, we are led to believe that Lefty is going to off Donnie not only for resentment but also because of the fear he could be a rat. I won’t tell you what happens, else you might try to off me for ruining some of the plot.
But, in another angle of the movie, the audience is exposed to how deep, undercover life is stressful on a marriage. Gee, go figure. The wife’s mad because she is singly raising three kids, she has to shovel the walk, and she’s lonely at night. Donnie, on the other hand, is hanging out with a bunch of mobsters, working 24 hours a day, and gets lonely too. These are not the things that a strong relationship is based upon, and neither is a good mob movie. The writers and editors did a good job of using this story line to add and not overly detract from the main movie theme.
Donnie shares an intimate moment with his wife Maggie (Anne Heche) I read most of the book that this movie was based upon and yes the book is better. It is only better because it gives you so much more detail. Which is usually the case. None the less, “Donnie Brasco” is a fine movie because screen writer Paul Attanasio choose well what details to keep from the book, Johnny and Al as always put in peak characterization performances, and director Mike Newell sews it all together seamlessly. I liked Donnie Brasco and give it 4 our of 5 stars and I’m Stu Gotz. Later!
The Dude on the Right here:
Alright, I was going to let Stu have the full review of this one, but a couple of things I read got me all hot and bothered and I just couldn’t sleep because either I got it and the other critic dudes didn’t or I saw way too far into this, but here it is.
Yea, you got this great movie about the mob, the “family” and all, and I’ve read a couple of critics condemn the trip the boys made to Florida in the movie (it’s a comical highlight to a dark film). I’ve read a number of folks describe this comedic interlude as useless and not very funny. As far as not funny, the audience at the show I was at would beg to differ, at least in judging by the laughter coming from around me. And as far as useless, what struck me about the comical hilarities of the trip to Florida was that it showed a “family” aspect of being in the mob outside of the dark lifestyle. It was like dad packing up the wife and kids and heading for a fun day at the beach rather than putting a hit on your worst enemy, or best friend. I’m not saying that the mob family is a good thing, but for many their family ties are stronger in the Mafia than in their own blood relatives.
Well, sorry about that little interjection, any maybe I just got a little too deep into the meaning of the movie, but that’s my two cents. As far as a rating, I agree with Stu. It’s 4 stars from for “Donnie Brasco.” That’s it for this one, I’m The Dude on the Right! L8R!