Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/Italy, 2002. Miramax, Initial Entertainment Group, Alberto Grimaldi Productions. Story by Jay Cocks, Screenplay by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan. Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Produced by Alberto Grimaldi, Harvey Weinstein. Music by Howard Shore. Production Design by Dante Ferretti. Costume Design by Sandy Powell. Film Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker. Academy Awards 2002. American Film Institute Awards 2002. Golden Globe Awards 2002. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2002. National Board of Review Awards 2002. New York Film Critics Awards 2002. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2002.
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.