Written by Chazz Palminteri
Directed by Robert DeNiro
The first time I saw the movie A Bronx Tale was after hearing an interview on the radio with Chazz Palminteri. I had never heard of him before, but hearing him discuss this movie, and the characters who are all based on people he knew growing up, I felt I had to see it.
The movie is an excellent story of the relationship between a neighborhood mobster, Sonny (portrayed by Palminteri) and Calogero – or “C” (portrayed at a young age by Francis Capra and in his mid-teens by Lillo Brancato). Robert DeNiro portrays C’s father, Lorenzo, a bus driver who’s route enables him to keep an eye on his son, and who is consistently at odds with the mobster over his son’s future. Trying to keep his son on the straight-and-narrow, the scenes between DeNiro and Palminteri are incredibly well done, and are the true gem of this movie.
At the tender age of 9, C witnesses a shooting outside of his apartment. When asked by the police to identify the shooter, C lies and covers up for Sonny. Recognizing what the boy has done for him, Sonny takes him under his wing, much to Lorenzo’s chagrin.
Lillo Brancato does an amazing job portraying C as a teen caught between so many worlds in the Bronx of the 1960’s. On one hand, he has his relationship with his father (and mother, though we see little of her throughout the movie). On the other, he has the relationship with Sonny. On still another side is his friends his own age, who Sonny actually tries harder to steer him away from than Lorenzo. And then there is C’s heart, which has led him to fall for Jane, a black girl who attends his school.
All of these worlds collide in a frantic ending that will keep you on the edge of your seat. At 122 minutes, the movie is long, but I found few parts that really seemed to drag. There is comic relief as well, in the form of Sonny’s mobster buddies. The funniest has to be Eddie Mush who is called that because everything he touches turns to mush.
Why this movie did not get recognized in the way of awards, I have no idea. The acting is fantastic and the story is excellently written and paced. Robert DeNiro directed the movie, his first time behind the camera, and should’ve gotten an award (or at least nominated), as well as Palminteri nominated for the writing.
As with any mob-related movie, expect violence. C and his friends use strong language constantly. It is for effect, as you get the idea that the kids are using it because they think that it makes them sound tough.
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