Today: April 18, 2024

A Bronx Tale

It’s a tragic truth that Robert De Niro’s rich and enthralling directorial debut A Bronx Tale is one of the lesser seen gangster pictures.

It’s a tragic truth that Robert De Niro’s rich
and enthralling directorial debut A Bronx Tale is one of the lesser seen
gangster pictures.
Upon release in 1993 it sorely
under-performed at the box office (having Jurassic
to compete with), and has since fallen behind such titans as Goodfellas and The Godfather as far as must-see mafia movies go. This month’s welcome Blu-ray re-release
is a chance to right this wrong, and put this mighty work back where it belongs
with the best of the best.

We meet Bronx-dwelling
Italian American Calogero at the age of nine. He’s a typical school kid, memorising baseball trivia and
testing his parents’ boundaries.
He develops a curiosity for local mob boss Sonny, who hangs out on the
corner of his street, and he tries to sneak peaks at him at the bar next door,
which his parents have deemed strictly out of bounds. De Niro plays Calogero’s father Lorenzo, a hardworking and
honest ‘stand up guy’, to use the vernacular. When his son’s fascination with the gangster develops into a
father-son-like relationship, Lorenzo becomes all the more protective, which in
turn drives Calogero further away from him. Sonny even gives the boy a new name, ‘C’, and soon C finds
himself earning more than his father by running seemingly harmless errands for
his new mentor.

As a director De Niro
simultaneously pays homage to Martin
, from who he clearly learnt so much, and sets himself apart as
something new and different. He
takes Scorsese’s energetic and wild style but gives it a twist, removing the
darkness and injecting a child-like playfulness, perfectly suited to a story
told from a child’s point of view.
As well as playing Sonny, Chazz
adapted the script from his own play, which premiered in 1990 to
critical acclaim. The story offers
an unusual and refreshing perspective on the often over-glamourised world of
mobster life, with C struggling to figure out whether Sonny is the tough guy
and his father the sucker, or vice versa.

The soundtrack gives A
Bronx Tale extra heart and soul; a dizzying selection of Doo-wop and rock n’
roll making the film every bit as operatic and exhilarating as any of
Scorsese’s. The cinematography is
authentic and beautiful, and with a couple of small exceptions the performances
are more than worthy. The
conclusion, featuring an apt cameo played to wise-guy perfection, is just the
cherry on top of a really scrumptious celluloid cake.

If you’re a gangster
flicks junky, or fancy a game of ‘spot the Sopranos
actor’, then you can’t miss this film.
The script is elegant in structure, sparkling in dialogue and heartfelt
in message, leaving very little to criticise amongst the riches to recommend. Now if that’s not an offer you can’t
refuse we don’t know what is.

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