Terry Noonan returns home to New York's Hells Kitchen after a ten year absence. He soon hooks up with childhood pal Jackie who is involved in the Irish mob run by his brother Frankie. Terry also rekindles an old flame with Jackie's sister Kathleen. Soon, however, Terry is torn between his loyalty to his friends and his loyalties to others.Written by
Josh Pasnak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Brutal and gritty gangster flick - hugely underrated!
I'm shocked that I've been a film fan for many years, and have only just seen this gem! In a world where The Godfather and Goodfellas are at the top of most people's lists of favourites, it's hard to believe that a film as strong as State of Grace could be so criminally under seen. The film is about love, friendship and betrayal; and takes place in New York's infamous Hell's Kitchen. The fact that it was released in the same year as Martin Scorsese's more acclaimed 'Goodfellas' probably didn't do it many favours; but if you ask me, this is the better film. Boasting a strong cast, director Phil Joanou's film follows Irish-American Terry Noonan as he returns home after an absence of ten years. He soon hooks up with his old friends, including Jackie and his brother Frankie; who is now the head of the Irish mafia. However, it doesn't take long before Terry's rekindled relationship with his old friends and his new loyalties to another party become at odds with one another, and our hero soon finds himself torn between the two.
State of Grace has all the violence, foul language and hot-headed characters that are part and parcel of this sort of film; but at its core is a very well worked plot, bolstered by some great characterisation. The characters are the main focus point in this film, and it's through their motivations that the plot is allowed to move. A film that puts so much focus on its characters needs a strong cast in order to work, and this film certainly has that. Sean Penn takes the lead role and delivers an early version of the strong lead performance that would go on to earn him high praise from the critics. He is supported by the underrated Ed Harris, who grows on me more and more every time I see him, in the film's most level-headed role - but the real star of the show is Gary Oldman. This actor has the ability to completely steal any film that he's in, and he really does stand out here; delivering what is surely one of his all-time best performances. Familiar faces such as John Turturro, John C. Reilly and Robin Wright Penn do well; but it's the main trio that take home all the acting plaudits. Hell's Kitchen is beautifully brought to the screen in the most downtrodden manner possible, and the music and atmosphere combine with the shockingly realistic violence to ensure that the film is always gritty and unrelenting. State of Grace comes with high recommendations.
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