Scorsese’s Goodfellas is regarded as one of the key influences of cinema and is held in severely high regard by the majority of movie fans and critics. As I struggle to write this introduction, it’s difficult to put into words how I felt personally about this movie. Did I love it from start to finish? Absolutely I did, it blows other movies of the same genre out of the water entirely.
This is down to numerous aspects, some of them are extremely obvious like Scorsese’s direction or the supporting performances of Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro. Other positive aspects are much more subtle, the slow-burning and long-winded storytelling elements of the film are like no other. With consistently enjoyable narration from lead actor Ray Liotta, the audience receives a taste in the life of the Sicilian crime family.
Joe Pesci is incredible, with an Oscar winning role that gives off the hard-ass egotisms of the mafia, while at the same time creating one of cinema’s most characteristically hailed characters. Tommy DeVito is a hot head, and Pesci’s unbelievable performance captures that nature so perfectly well. One of the few supporting roles in the film that easily outshines the leading performer.
But that’s not to say the leading Ray Liotta is bad. He brings in the paranoia and consistent worries that a newcomer to a mob family makes, sharing many scenes with higher ups of the family. Most prominent of all is his chemistry with an aptly cast Robert De Niro. Having seen him recently in The Godfather II, I appreciate his performance here much more than I did on initial viewing. De Niro plays somewhat a mentor role to Liotta’s performance as Henry Hill.
Based on the true story, Scorsese’s Goodfellas is rightly remembered as one of the greatest and culturally valued movies of all time. Sticking a tight script into a free-flowing film with consistent actors who have enough range to make a project like this work is gold. A once in a lifetime opportunity capitalised on by consistent direction, amazing performances and incredibly hard work from everyone involved. The very pinnacle of the crime genre.