the fresh films reviews

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Donnie Brasco (1997)

Directed by:
Mike Newell
Donnie Brasco

127 minutes

Produced by:
Louis DiGiaimo
Mark Johnson
Barry Levinson
Gail Mutrux
Written by:
Paul Attanasio
Based on a book by:
Joseph D. Pistone
Richard Woodley

Cast includes:

Lefty Ruggiero Al Pacino
Donnie Brasco / Joseph D. Pistone Johnny Depp
Sonny Black Michael Madsen
Nicky Santora Bruno Kirby
Paulie James Russo
Maggie Pistone Anne Heche
Tim Curley Zeljko Ivanek
Dean Blandford FBI Gerry Becker -
Sonny Red Robert Miano -
Bruno Indelicato Brian Tarantina -
Richie Gazzo Rocco Sisto -
FBI Techincians Tim Blake Nelson
Paul Giamatti



Johnny Depp and the rest of this production about FBI's undercover operation to infiltrate the Bonanno crime family is exquisitely stylish-looking in its pre-millennial 1970s nostalgia. The picture is like a postcard for slick hair, squeaking leather jackets, and big collared shirts, worn by tough-talking guys who more often than not talk past one another and resolve any misunderstandings with the omni-meaning phrase "Forget about it!" Al Pacino plays Lefty Ruggiero, a constantly overlooked, semi-important cog in the wheel. He strikes up a friendship with undercover FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone (Depp), who poses as the seemingly loyal and trustworthy jewel thief Donnie Brasco, and gradually Lefty introduces him into the family. The script by Paul Attanasio (Quiz Show), based on Mr. Pistone's own autobiography, is among the best written in the mobster genre. It details the organization's combined complexity and banality with clarity and fervour. You get sucked into this world, not because it's so frigging interesting, but because you start caring for these people. They're all more or less small, insecure boys acting tough. And there is a deeply human side to everything they do. In the midst of Mike Newell's slickly produced, handsomely photographed film arguably his magnum opus there is a moving, constantly fascinating and nuanced story about friendship, loyality and distrust. And Al Pacino and Johnny Depp create dynamite playing off of each other. They both give close to career-best performances.

Re-reviewed: Copyright 15.08.2023 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright 22.09.1997 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang