You know when you can tell a movie is going to be good right off the get go. When it starts talking about the town and the people, the different characters in the town, what was going on at that time and that era. Well this is how this movie starts. The main character, the boy, narrates the film by describing his life and his story as he grows up in an Italian neighbor hood on the corner from the god father gangsters joint who runs the neighbor hood. You might be thinking this is a gangster movie right. Well not so fast Its not as much about italian gangsters as it is about this boy’s life and his influence from The lead gangster Sunny and his father who is played by Robert De Niro. (In fact the film is directed by Robert De Niro himself and filmed in the memory of his father Robert De Niro Sr.). But besides that the boy like all of us as kids is just trying to grow up to be like his role models, trying to be a cool kid to impress his friends. The kid necessarily has two role models Sunny the god father gangster and his father. There is a lot of direction the kid is getting from his to father figures Sunny and his biological father and both conflict. But really the kid just wants to do what is right so he tries to follow both which puts him in a rough place at times. But then there is a third influence on his life a lesser of the two but still takes some pull, this is his friends. Just like you and me when we are kids we all want to impress our friends for the most part. But sometimes we decide to hang around and sort of be there when we know we shouldn’t, when we know that we are going to get into trouble hanging out with the friends of ours. This is whats going on in the kids life. Finally there is a fourth influence on the kids life and that is this girl that he likes where he tends to make decisions based on love.
This film paints a great picture of Italian and black New York in the 1960s. With Gangsters running the towns and race hate between blacks and italians. It shows a small snip bit from the bigger picture of what was going on. Meaning the story does not really go outside the neighbor hood.
The kids father plays a loving character just loving his son so much and wanting the best for him. And like any good loving father he does not want him to be hanging around Sunny the main gangster. His father tries to push his son to be an honest hard working man, as he is and to not get involved in the kind of life Sunny lives. The kid respects his dad but ultimately respects the power that Sunny holds and does not want to throw away the relationship between him and Sunny. This puts the kids in a tough spot like i was saying, but in reality both the father and Sunny have their best interests out for the boy. Sunny has the kid’s back on the street and can even be recognized as another father figure to the kid and with the kid having this relationship with Sunny the Kid learns valuable life lessons from him.
The kid falls in love with one of the black girls that goes to his school but with the segregation and rase hate going on at the time it makes it difficult for them to be together. You see the hostility and hatred equally from the italians as you due the blacks. But the film doesn’t really end up telling you what happens between the Kid and the girl.
The end of the movie is sort of depressing but there is some peace that is reach and reconciliation that is met. It never reveals what happened to the mother. Just at some point in the film she is no longer apart of the movie, which I thought was strange, unless I just missed that part. Yet with the movie being a depressing as it was I wouldn’t want to see it again. It was more of just a one time thing for me. It was neat in the sense that it put a new spin on gangster movies and it had some surprising parts in it and a great plot. But I definitely would have liked to see a better ending. With how neat an original the film was and for being made in 1993 it was a very nicely made film. Better than most I seen from the early 90s. I’m giving this movie a Seven out of Ten.