“Goodfellas” Review ✦✦✦✦✦

13 February, 2017

Year of Release: 1990
Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese, Nicholas Pileggi
Director of Photography: 
Michael Ballhaus
Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci

Synopsis: The story of Italian-American mobster Henry Hill, raised in Brooklyn and initiated into the Mafia at a young age, who discovers fortune and success as a lawbreaker before he is swayed into becoming an FBI informant.

Goodfellas Review:

An intricate crime story spanning over three decades in the life of New York City mobster Henry Hill, “Goodfellas” is a film with a deep-rooted understanding of the power and egotism that comes with being a high-profile gangster and Martin Scorsese makes no mistake in telling Hill’s story with an analytical edge which mostly plays out in voiceover as he shuffles back through a life defined by drugs, death, and dollar bills. Everybody takes a beating in “Goodfellas” but the allure of sharp suits and Chicago handshakes disguises the violent truth behind their doomed lives as allegiance and power come to define an entire era of drug smugglers and thieves.

Where “The Godfather” relies on maturity and discipline to carry the weight of its family-focused drama, “Goodfellas” has a more free-form sensibility; cracking jokes, snorting cocaine, and doing dodgy dealings on the side like a true wise guy whose lived experiences are recounted like that of a soldier out on the Brooklyn front line. Made to be the younger and cheekier alternative to a number of far more severe and serious crime stories, “Goodfellas” analyses the thugs behind the brotherhood while it dabbles in every element of their luxurious and aggressive lifestyle with extreme ease.

Ensuring that viewers get a slice of the pie, Scorsese guarantees that when somebody gets a piece of the action we get a piece of them in return. Off-hand quips and heated conversations are quick to reveal the weaknesses, prejudices, and vulnerabilities of a range of characters as they profit directly from their ‘money buys everything’ mentality. It soon becomes apparent that the girls, cars, and houses are mere accompaniments in a game that’s all about being the biggest and best wise guy you can possibly be but in a world where everyone is a bully the struggle to preserve affluence and influence turns friends into enemies and business partners into adversaries as Scorsese asks us to look deeply at the families and the lives that are built on crime only to later fall apart as a result of it.


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