Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Bronx Tale (1993): Robert De Niro's Directorial Debut

A Bronx Tale
It's strange A Bronx Tale didn't performed well at the box office. It has Robert De Niro in its cast and he is the director of the movie too. The characters are interesting. The story is simple but involving. The direction and camera work are also fine. The casting is good. Robert De Niro and Chazz Palminteri as well as Lillo Brancato give very solid performances. The film is a well-done gangster drama and it is definitely better than many other movies of the genre. Still, it was not a very successful motion picture in terms of box office performance.

A Bronx Tale is a coming of age story of Calogero 'C' Anello (portrayed by both, Lillo Brancato and Francis Capra). As a young boy in a Bronx neighborhood, Calogero witnesses a shooting with the participation of the local mafia boss Sonny LoSpecchio (Chazz Palminteri). Calogero has been fascinated by Sonny for a long time so he covers the mobster during the police investigation. As a result, a long lasting relationship between the boy and the gangster begins, which is not approved by Calogero's father Lorenzo (Robert De Niro). Lorenzo is an honest bus driver and he prefers his son to stay away from the mafia's doings instead of being constantly worried about the boy's life. Calogero spends the following years torn between both men's advices and his feelings are constantly challenged by his uncertainty what is the right thing for him. To make everything more complicated his coeval friends are involved in various mindless crimes and he falls in love with the wrong girl.

Both of the actors playing Calogero, Lillo Brancato at the age of 17 and Francis Capra at the age of 9, make their acting debuts in A Bronx Tale. And both of them perform the role quite good. You can almost feel Calogero's doubts through the screen in either of the both performances. Robert De Niro does not have the leading role this time (at least not in front of the camera) but he performs the father's part trustworthy. And Chazz Palminteri gives a very strong performance in the role of Sonny. Palminteri creates maybe one of the most likeable mafia bosses in cinema history while at the same time his character does not lack the needed portion of violence for being a successful mobster.

A Bronx Tale sports a bunch of impressive monologues and dialogues about life, love and mafia. There are also enough funny lines to make the film entertaining. The characters are multidimensional and there are several moments when you do not know what exactly will follow. Some of the speeches will probably stick to your mind for some time independently whether you think they are right or not. The music helps for the creation of an authentic atmosphere in the movie as well.

The screenplay of A Bronx Tale comes from Chazz Palminteri himself and it is a very good basis for the film. There are plenty of coming-of-age issues covered by the narrative and there are also some social problems of the time that are referred, e.g., the racist segregation. Robert De Niro makes a great directorial debut with this movie. He manages to capture the spirit of the 1960's Bronx and to present it in a likeable although a little bit romantic fashion. De Niro succeeds to transmit the characters' emotions in a very touching way so it's easy to relate with them even if you haven't dreamt of being a gangster.

A Bronx Tale has not been a great success in cinema theaters for whatever reason. But is a very successful film on its own presenting two good actors in different movie making roles. Both Robert De Niro and Chazz Palminteri deserve huge credit for making this film, which is likely to remain their best effort as director and screenwriter correspondingly. If you are a fan of mobster movies, do not miss this picture cause it is amongst the better ones in the crime genre.

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