A Bronx Tale (1993), Cert 18.

Director - Robert De Niro.

Writer - Chazz Palminteri.

Starring - Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, Lillo Brancato & Francis Capra.


Premise - It's the 60's in the Bronx, New York and bus driver Lorenzo (Robert De Niro) grows more and more concerned for his son, Calogero (Lilo Brancato & Francis Capra) as he befriends the local mob boss Sonny (Chazz Palminteri).

This film comes with an incredibly high pedigree, directed by debut boy Robert De Niro and also stars the legend. Chazz Palminteri adapts his own stage play (which is semi-autobiographical) and also stars opposite De Niro. So, expectations were high, repeat expectations were high. Were they met? In spades.......

A Bronx Tale is a wonderful take on the gangster film genre, De Niro and Palminteri's movie is at times deeply moving and by turn at times incredibly shocking. The bond that exists between Calogero (or 'C' as he is nicknamed) and his father is deep, Lorenzo will do anything to stop his son ending up like Sonny. However, the bond that grows between Sonny and C is also like that of a father and son. Sonny is really not that different from Lorenzo, essentially they both want the same thing for C, to not waste talent and to be the best he can be. Sonny may be a murdering gangster, but he doesn't want that for C, he wants him to have a better life.

Calegero himself doesn't know what he wants so he looks to the guidance of his two father figures. Initially in his real father, but increasingly more towards Sonny as he is drawn into his fast life with the clothes, money and cars. Finally coming full circle as he realises that his father and Sonny basically wanted the same thing for him.

Not your average gangster film, A Bronx Tale concentrates more on the complex relationships between its lead characters rather than stylistic violence. Not to say the film doesn't have its share of violence, some scenes are particularly graphic, but they never feel gratuitous.

It's amazing to me that aside from some of Marlon Brando's scene's in 'The Score' that De Niro hasn't felt the urge to work behind the camera again. His work here is very assured and if he shows more than a smidge of a certain Mr. Scorsese's influence, well who can blame him. Witness the long tracking shots, the voiceovers and the incredible use of contempary pop music amongst other tell tale Scorsese trademarks.

Indeed, with De Niro's acting output of late varying from the startlingly average to the piss poor perhaps it might be time for him to think about taking a sabbatical from acting and turning full time director for a little while. This was probably one of De Niro's last great acting roles, as after this he began to tumble down a slippery slope that can boast such low-lights as 'The Fan' and 'Analyse That'. As far as A Bronx tale goes however he is on top form. Lorenzo is not his normal role, it's a reversal of sorts and he plays it brilliantly. A man who loves his son unconditionally and will do anything to give him the life he deserves.

Palminteri is equally as impressive, a cold calculating man who prefers to be feared than loved. He only lets his guard down around C, like Lorenzo he loves him and does everything in his power to stop him following in his own footsteps. Also good are the two young actors who portray Calogero. Lilo Brancato plays the young C and Francis Capra the teenage version. Both bring something special to the role, with Capra in particular impressing. Capra is also an uncanny likeness for a young Robert De Niro.

Some things did bother me about the film. The film has a sub plot involving a race war between the Italian/American kids from the Bronx and some African/American kids from Brooklyn. It's a nice little plot thread and really adds to the power of the film (particularly in the final scenes). However I found it unlikely that the black girl would be so willing to go back to C after he used the 'N' word. Even if her brother did back his story, it just didn't wash for me that she would be so forgiving after his choice of words. Also, the acting abilities of the young black girl they hired are in question. She seems to be toiling against the array of fine talent that litters the film.

Small niggles to be sure and in no way detract from what is otherwise a top quality gangster film with a touch more heart than you would expect. On a final note the film also boasts what I would describe as the best cameo in a movie ever. It really rounded of what truly is an outstanding movie.



Poster Quote - Quite the tale.