(out of 5)
Martin Scorsese’s dream project of the last thirty years has finally made it to the big screen with mostly successful results. The story is GoodFellas but set a hundred years earlier to the 1860s, with Irish immigrants arriving in New York by the thousands to escape the famine of their homeland only to meet with the harsh living conditions of the Five Points neighbourhood in downtown Manhattan. Leonardo DiCaprio is born in the city and grows up in a boys’ reform school after his Irish father (Liam Neeson) is killed right in front of him during a battle with a gang of New York natives led by Daniel Day-Lewis. Now grown up, and with his history unknown to pretty much everyone around him, he re-enters society and becomes Day-Lewis’ right hand man, his desire for vengeance never leaving him for a moment. Cameron Diaz is excellent as the lovely pickpocket who wins our hero’s heart and then finds herself caught between two warring tribes; this is probably her most accomplished and impressive performance yet. The film runs a grandiose three hours and features gorgeous costumes by Sandy Powell, thrilling, giant sets and thousands of hardworking extras, but I’d say that the main element that gives it its epic appeal is Day-Lewis’ marvelous, larger than life performance. Michael Ballhaus’ cinematography is gorgeous, the dialogue in a script co-written by Oscar winner Steven Zaillian and nominees Jay Cocks and Kenneth Lonergan couldn’t be better, and Scorsese directs with a grand amount of vigour that he hasn’t shown since Casino.
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus
Music by Howard Shore
Production Design by Dante Ferretti
Costume Design by Sandy Powell
Film Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker