Starring: Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro
Director: Martin Scorsese
Running Time: 143 mins
Goodfellas is an American film about the true story of Henry Hill, a young aspiring gangster who worked his way up through the mob hierarchy with his partners in crime over the course of three decades from 1955 to 1980.
This is an absolute classic in the gangster movie world. It’s a slick, violent tale of greed and betrayal, and, like so many of Martin Scorsese’s best films, features on anti-heroes who you should feel guilty supporting, but instead have a riot of a time being a part of their decadent lifestyles.
Seriously, this is a very violent, very sweary and very irreverent film, detailing Scorsese’s favourite theme of all: greed. Much like Casino and The Wolf Of Wall Street, everything here is about excess, and despite it all coming from a totally illegal and clandestine origin, the focus of this film on the mobsters as the protagonists draws you into their lives, and infects you with this love of decadence and greed, something which is both unnerving and massively entertaining to experience.
The story that unfolds over the course of two and a half hours is brilliantly engrossing, because you’re so tied to these main characters. The fact that they’re anti-heroes gives you something extra to think about, but as simple protagonists, these people are absolutely fascinating to follow over the course of almost their whole lives.
Henry Hill, the central character, is the person that you use to look into the mob world, and luckily, he’s a lot more moderate than the other gangsters, but that likeability is again so infectious that you want to get deeper involved in this whole world. Meanwhile, his friends, namely Tommy DeVito (played brilliantly by Joe Pesci) and Jimmy Conway, whilst more on the aggressive side, are still fascinating to follow along, and especially as you see them as established gangsters through Hill’s eyes, they give you an in-depth idea of the world of the mafia.
One of the best things about this film is that the story takes place over such a long period of time, so it feels like a plot of epic proportions akin to The Godfather or Gone With The Wind, and the film’s ability to keep your interest over multiple decades is simply very impressive. The other benefit of that is that you get to see the characters grow over a long period of time, which is fascinating to see, and their actors adapt to the development. Here, Joe Pesci (who is utterly psychotic), Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco in particular really shine in their roles as characters that really change over the course of the story, and that’s once again something very impressive that you rarely get to see in films.
Overall, this gets an 8.7, because it’s not only a riotously and stylishly entertaining mob film, but it’s got an engrossing story that looks at both greed as well as the developing lives of its fascinating main characters.