This true story follows FBI agent Joe Pistone as he infiltrates the mafia of New York. Befriending Lefty Ruggiero, Pistone (under the name Donnie Brasco) is able to embed himself in a mafia faction lead by Sonny Black. Ruggiero and Pistone become tight as the group goes about collecting money for 'the bosses'. Eventually, the group become big time when Black himself becomes a boss, all the while Pistone collects evidence. However, the trials and tribulations of the undercover work become more than Pistone can bear. His marriage falls apart and to top it off, the mafia suspect a mole in the organization. The real dilemma is afforded to Pistone, who knows if he walks away from the mafia, Ruggiero will be the one punished. Written by
P. Wong <email@example.com>
Donnie bets his kids $20 that they can't get through breakfast without saying three words, and is daughter replies "you lose." The scene is based on a famous incident involving writer Dorothy Parker and President Calvin Coolidge, known as "Silent Cal" for his quiet manner and hatred of small talk. Parker, seated next to Coolidge, turned to him and said "Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you." Coolidge allegedly replied "You lose." See more »
Set in the 1970s, but the National Debt Clock appears in the background in one scene. See more »
God, why do you hate me when I love you so much?
You think I hate you? I don't hate you. This job is eating me alive. I can't breathe anymore. And if I come out, this guy Lefty dies. They're gonna kill him because he vouched for me. Because he stood up for me. I live with that every day. That's the same thing if I put the bullet through his head myself, you understand? I spend all these years trying to be the good guy, you know? The man in the white fuckin' hat. For what? For nuthin'. I'm not ...
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Superb mafia drama. Deeper, and rings truer than most.
First rate mafia drama connects on a deeper level than most. Its cinematography may not have the moody, noirish atmosphere that makes The Godfather so appealing, but despite its slick Hollywood look, it seems to attain such penetrating truth (this, perhaps, has a little to do with its being based on a book by the real life main character). The central situation of the aging mafia man taking under his confidence and vouching for an undercover FBI agent, and that a bond forms between the two men is a great one. The performances are absolutely superb. Particularly the two men who the story centres on, Joe Pistone, a.k.a Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp, going for realism in this role, is incredible. It begins and ends with a closeup of his eyes - this movie would be nothing without him) and mafia man "Lefty" (Pacino, who gives us one of his finest characterisations - best bit, his close-up after Donnie is asked to shake hands by a certain character on a certain boat). The vividness of the characters in this movie seems to owe a great deal to the superb screenplay (again, credit to the real-life source material). Recurring catch-phrases make it easy for us to get to know characters, and wonderful little touches give the story such a resonance, and make it ring true: like Lefty's smoking inside the car when driving with Brasco and accusing Brasco of trying to kill him with the draft when he opens a window to let some smoke out, and the portrait of Lefty, the opposite of how we imagine a mafia veteran, as a vulnerable, often emotional man.
Deserves at least four stars. Recommended to anyone (except, obviously kids, for a few scenes unsuitable to them).
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