Sunday, July 12, 2015

Donnie Brasco

Movie Name: Donnie Brasco

Year of Release: 1997
Director: Mike Newell
Stars: Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, James Russo, Anne Heche, Zeljko Ivanek, Gerry Becker, Robert Miano, Brian Tarantina, Rocco Sisto, Zach Grenier
Genre: Drama, Crime
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Idiosyncratic director Mike Newell's "Donnie Brasco" was one of his best and most successful films from the 90s, following his smaller British based and funded films "Enchanted April" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral". "Donnie Brasco" is based on the true story of FBI agent Joe Pistone, as he goes through the process of going undercover, in order to infiltrate the mafia of New York. Going by the name of Donnie Brasco, the agent is taken under the protection of Lefty Ruggiero. His immersion in the mafia family becomes overwhelming in his life, leading to the dissolution of his marriage. He also realizes that upon the reveal of the mafia business intricacies, Lefty will be the one to take all the blame for the exposure. 
Mike Newell started his career in the 60s, directing assorted tv shows for the British television. His eclectic directorial career allowed him to continue developing assorted projects, until his features started gaining more attention in the 80s, starting with "Dance with a Stranger" and "The Good Father". The success of "Four Weddings and Funeral" allowed him to tackle more visible projects, such as "Donnie Brasco". The film successfully depicts the mafia life during the 70s, and the hardship it caused on the life of the FBI agent tasked with infiltrating it. Mike Newell manages to give the film a simultaneous focus on the crime angle and also the more familiar section of the agent's life. It's a film that focuses on the work of the talented cast and the well oiled production (including the cinematography of Peter Sovia and the screenplay of Paul Attanasio), and though ultimately not as memorable and iconic as Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas", it still manages to be a solid endeavor, featuring fantastic performances from Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and also Anne Heche. A good film worth revisiting.