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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

A Bronx Tale


Starring: Robert De Nero, Chazz Palminteri, Lillo Brancato and Joe Pesci
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 18 June 2012

In 1960’s Bronx, nine year old Calogero 'C' Anello grows up idolising local Mafioso, Sonny LoSpecchio, much to the dislike of his father, Lorenzo Anello. Sonny doesn’t even acknowledge Calogero’s existence until one day he witnesses Sonny shooting a man dead, apparently over a parking space. When the cops come around and ask the kid to finger Sonny for the killing, he refuses. Having gained Sonny attention Calogero starts a lifelong relationship with Sonny, finding himself growing up between two men who hold opposing views about life...

A Bronx Tale (1993 - 2 hrs, 01 min, 32 sec) is a coming of age story directed by Robert De Niro from a script by Chazz Palminteri. The film won a single award and was nominated for a further two, which, given the quality of the movie, is pretty criminal.

De Niro perfectly captures the look and feel of the Bronx in the sixties, from the hard working blue collar workers represented by his father to the street gangs and wise guys. With such a feast of great films which have also covered this ground, especially De Niro’s work with Martin Scorsese, the initial look and feel of the film makes you think that De Niro is going to be treading over old ground. However, the film takes a completely different look at a familiar subject matter, imagine Goodfellas (1990), but with Henry Hill, growing up with a highly moral and loving father.

The story is ultimately about the two men’s opposing views of life and how Calogero (Lillo Brancato) tries to both navigate between them, but also reconcile for himself their differing philosophies. Lorenzo (Robert De Niro) drives a bus for a living, proud that he is able to put food on the table with only hard work, he even turns down an offer of a job from Sonny, after C refuses to finger him for the killing. A staunch believer in making your own way in the world his resistance to the relationship between his son and Sonny, brings him into conflict with both of them.

Sonny (Chazz Palminteri), on the other hand, must walk a very fine line in order to survive. Life has taught him that no one cares, a phrase he reiterates more than once although it is telling that he also tells C that it would be best to be loved and feared, but in his business, to be feared is to survive. As an audience we just don’t buy this, Sonny’s relationship with C is not that of a man keeping a witness close; it is more like father and son. Rather than school him in how to become a criminal Sonny spends most of his time trying to keep C in school and away from trouble. Although Sonny is a hard and violent man, it is difficult not to like him, as a character.

The film provides a richly emotional experience, with De Niro deftly switching the tone from humour to violence, without ever glorifying the lives of the Mafia. The acting is superb, from both the main cast and the supporting actors. The only thing which didn’t work so well was C's relationship with a young black girl at his school, sweet though it is, not enough time was allocated to explore the difficulties of an Italian and Afro American relationship in the sixties, which would have been looked on with distaste by both communities.

The Stereo 2.0 LPCM audio does a good job, but a better remix would have been appreciated. The Blu-ray looks like a new film, rich in detail and colour with decent blacks. There is only a single, short, Making of feature (6 min, 15 sec) and the Theatrical Trailer (2 min, 12 sec), both in standard definition.

In the end it’s a richly rewarding film which does almost the impossible in bringing another take on the culture of the Bronx.


Charles Packer

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