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Movie Reviews

Donnie Brasco  

1997 127 mins

Director - Mike Newell
Starring - Al Pacino - Lefty Ruggiero
Johnny Depp - Joe Pistone / Donnie Brasco
Michael Madsen - Sonny Black
Bruno Kirby - Nicky

Donnie Brasco is based on the true story of Joe Pistone who was an undercover FBI agent in the seventies assigned to infiltrate one of New York's mob families in order to bring them down. During this time he becomes good friends with Lefty an aging mobster who takes Donnie under his wing and becomes his mentor because Lefty knows that he won't get a chance to make the step up to a main man anymore and so he uses Donnie to bring a sense of purpose back into his life.

Because of the time Donnie spent undercover (I can't remember exactly but it was a number of years) he slowly finds himself becoming Donnie Brasco and living this second life is playing havoc with his real life. He never sees his wife and three daughters and when he does he and his wife always fight with each other which eventually results in his wife Maggie (Anne Heche) asking for a divorce. This other side of the story means that Brasco isn't your average gangster film as it offers interesting insights into Pistone's relationships with both his wife and Lefty and the effects these have on him as a person.

Pacino, although not lighting up the screen as in something like Scarface was still great as Lefty and the time Johnny Depp spent researching his role with the real Joe Pistone definitely paid off. Michael Madsen does what he does best, playing an all round nasty bad guy and Bruno Kirby was alright I suppose. I thought that he was trying to play the Joe Pesci role in the film though but failing miserably, maybe it was just his high pitched voice that reminded me. (if you don't know who he is it's the gimpy officer in Good Morning Vietnam who always takes Robin Williams off the air)

It took me a while for me to get into the film but I enjoyed it when he started getting deeper into the role of Donnie Brasco but I think that I will definitely need to watch it again to fully appreciate it. So I will.


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