A highly styled 'genre' film which can perhaps be seen as a pastiche of all gangster movies. Tom Reagan is the laconic anti-hero of this amoral tale which is also, paradoxically, a look at morals within the criminal underworld of the 1930s. Two rival gangs vie for control of a city where the police are pawns, and the periodic busts of illicit drinking establishments are no more than a way for one gang to get back at the other. Black humour and shocking violence compete for screen time as we question whether or not Tom, right-hand man of the Irish mob leader, really has a heart. Written by
In the ladies restroom scene, when Tom enters, Albert Finney (who also plays Leo) can be seen in drag as a (rather big) matron dressed in black and white on Tom's left side. See more »
Caspar repeatedly refers to Bernie as "the Schmatte" - Yiddish slang for "a worthless person". Bernie is Jewish, but an Italian gangster would never use a Yiddish word to refer to him. He would use an Italian epithet, instead. See more »
Contrary to what Pete the Geek says in his comment this film is not a comedy. I suspect he is a fan of the old black and whites and so he believes this is a spoof of them which it is most certainly not. This is a pure drama with perfect dialog and excellent acting all around. The film basically tells the events that unfold around a Gangland war between the Irish and Italian mobs of the late 20s. Gabriel Byrne plays Tom, Leo's (Albert Finney) right hand man and adviser who disagrees with his boss's decision to protect the conman brother (John Turturro) of his girlfriend Verna (Marcia Gay Harden) and must work his own wily methods to protect Leo from this decision.
This is a masterpiece of modern film and definitely shows that the Cohen brothers can do anything with film. The dialog and accents are all perfectly executed in vintage 20s style and flare, the sets are absolutely beautiful and the costume work is so good you almost feel like you stepped back in time. Anyone who doesn't love this film should go back and try watching it again. The musical score alone is enough to make it worth while.
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