Carlito's Way (1993) Poster

(1993)

User Reviews

Review this title
313 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
10/10
Carlito's Way -- The Master of its Genre
Jigsaw_At_The_Disco27 October 2008
Al Pacino, Sean Penn, and Penelope Ann Miller create an artistic and romantic twist to the gangster genre in Carlito's way, story of a convicted gangster by the name of Carlito Brigante, known to his ex-lover as Charlie, who manages to get his way out of jail thanks to crooked drug-addicted lawyer David Kleinfield. After his release, he's convinced himself that he's never going back to his life of crime, but before he knows it, he's inevitably being pulled back thanks to his corrupt friends and family.

While Scareface centered around the action and grittiness of the gangster life more then anything else, Carlito's Way tends to lean to the romantic side, giving the film an artsy twist. For example, in one scene there is a close up shot of a revolver, the chamber slowly moving to an empty slot. There is another famous scene with Carlito inside of a dark bathroom, his back against a wall with a pistol in hand. The way the camera is placed, the way Carlito is standing, and the way the lighting reflects off of the wall and his leather jacket are all taken in to account by De Palma. To make a long story short, Carlito's Way is very beautiful, and this is all thanks to De Palma. He directs the movie very well, you can tell that he put some true dedication in to this film.

Needless to say, the acting is incredible, no matter what you might be hearing. Al Pacino is as always great, and Penelope Ann Miller is as well. But most of the time you'll find yourself deeper inside Sean Penn's character then Pacino's or anyone else's. He's steals nearly every scene he's in, if not then he steals all of them. He's almost too convincing.

The scores are very, very strong and add on to the artistic feel to the movie. Not only do they add on to that, but it adds to the tension, the romance, and the tears as well.

To sum it all up, Carlito's Way is the best gangster film ever made. I love it more and more every time I think about it.

*****/*****

Riveting.
57 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Great story, great acting
rosaishere17 March 2005
Right well I can say this is one of my favourite gangster films ever, and I truly regard it almost as highly as good fellas or the godfather.

This is simply because of the way the story catches you. Pacino delivers an excellent performance (do you really expect any less from him?) as the main guy Carlito who just wants out of the whole gangster game. By his side is the almost unrecognisable Sean Penn. An afro wearing cocaine addict who just seems determined to lure Carlito back into the kind of world he is trying to leave.

This film is easy to enjoy with a great story and a great cast. And if you look carefully enough you can see a young Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn from lord of the rings in case you don't know) as a crippled low life. Made me chuckle.

Anyways, i give this movie 10/10
136 out of 154 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Watch this film.
carlito2354 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Once again, one of the greatest actors of our time teams up with one of the greatest directors. Ther combination must surely be as good as, if not better than, Scorsese and De Niro. First the excellent Scarface, and then Carlito's Way, a film that blew me away when I first saw it.

Pacino's portrayal of ex-gangland boss and drug dealer Carlito Brigante is powerful, moving and at times very funny. Combined with great performances from Sean Penn and Penelope Ann Miller, this film is a roller-coaster ride of "will he, won't he" tension and heavy , though not gratuitous, violence.

So swept away do we get in Carlito's struggle that we actually forget that he's dying at the beginning of the film, and are praying that he'll make it by the end. This is a masterstroke from De Palma and a salute to the powerful and mesmeric acting of one Alfredo Pacino.

A modern classic - this film has everything you could want. Love, loyalty, betrayal, sadness, comedy, and most importantly of all - balls.
106 out of 121 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A Wonderful Movie
wortdog974 October 2000
Pacino and DePalma team up once again and the result is once again triumphant. "Carlito's Way" is an emotional and captivating story, depicting the life of former trug kingpin Carlito Brigante (Pacino). Brigante's intention is to go straight, clean up his act, and make money managing a sleazy nightclub. David Koepp's screenplay has the depth it needs in examining the intense struggle an ex-druglord must endure when trying to escape his violent past. Stephen Burum's nearly flawless camerawork and DePalma's flamboyant and operatic direction are a visual splendor that complements the emotional story. This film is a highly underrated work of art that needs to be appreciated. Great supporting performances from Sean Penn and Penelope Ann Miller should not go unmentioned.
156 out of 183 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Great movie..vastly underrated!
Aditya_Gokhale2 December 2005
Great movie..and I can see why it is underrated...possibly due to obvious comparisons to Scarface (Brian De Palma, Martin Bregman, Al Pacino team), which was much more brutal in its approach.

Al Pacino as Carlito, awesome as he is, is still much softer compared to the sledgehammer Tony Montana. And then there is some romance mixed in with the story of a gangster trying to reform himself.

I didn't like the romantic scenes myself...thought they interrupted the flow of the story...hence I gave it a 9 instead of a 10! There is also some clichéd dialogue. I happen to be a big Pacino fan and so I am being a little bit (though not entirely) biased and am sidelining all these things. If you excuse these small potatoes, this one is a great flick from start to finish, very entertaining, with some fantastic performances from the supporting cast, e.g. Sean Penn. Special mention, also, of Viggo Mortensen who comes in for a short role, but plays the part wonderfully.

As for Al Pacino in lead role, he makes sure he steals the show, as usual. Brilliant!
76 out of 87 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Mind blowing story
aphextwinx29 August 2001
What can I say about such a movie? Simply brilliant. I make a point of watching this movie each year and every time I watch it I simply fall in love with it even more. The direction is brilliant as is Pacino's superb on-time acting. Al deserves an Oscar for this flick. As human beings, we love story telling. It's in out nature, and this story is excellent. As mentioned before in a previous review, Carlito's way is Scarface with feeling. Simply involving. I would dare say it does leave you on the edge of your chair with great anticipation, probably due to Pacino's on screen presence and experienced acting mannerisms. Penn, once again is brilliant and shines through as the high-classed, cocaine addicted Kleinfeld. If you have not seen this movie, do yourself a favour. Rent it out, dim the lights, snuggle up tight with your loved one and enjoy one of the greatest movies of all time. 9 out of 10.
65 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Way underrated
Idocamstuf24 January 2003
Carlito's Way is an extrememely underated Al Pacino movie. This film is probubly the best crime story ive seen, next to Goodfellas(1990), Pacino gives another superb performance as well as the rest of the cast. The story in Carlito's Way is extremely compelling and can be very sad at times. Unlike Pacino's similar film Scarface(1983), Carlito's Way is not just a blood bath without much of a story. I dont know why this film fizzled at the box office and failed to recieve any academy award nominations because it sure deserved to. 9 out of 10.
251 out of 304 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A different kind of gangster
manubezamat13 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Most people don't highlight 'Carlito's Way' among Al Pacino's gangster movies, but in my opinion it's an instant classic. It's not as hyped as 'The Godfather' or 'Scarface', but it's an extremely honest and captivating film, that wins you over exactly because it doesn't seem to have been created to make it into film history.

All the characters are very well defined, so there are no ambiguous or contradicting behaviors. Al Pacino is extremely charismatic, convincing the viewer that as well as he can play an Italian or a cuban, he can play a puerto-rican. And his complete change from one character to another is what makes this movie so special among the other great gangster movies.

Carlito Brigante is a more mature gangster, reformed from his years spent in jail. Differently from Tony Montana, Carlito doesn't feel, or needs to feel isolated. He reaches out to the people around him. He wants to trust, and mainly, love. Gail, his love interest, is put on a pedestal, as the person with whom he wants to escape to 'paradise', and the entire film revolves around the expectations and the hope that the viewer feels for this romance that along with Carlito's way out of the crime world would lead them both to the dream life. If Michael Corleone's essence was in honor and Tony Montana's in money, Carlito Brigante's is in this sensitivity, that make's you forget about his ethnicity or his background, which isn't so in 'Scarface'. His body language and his looks as a Latin-American also change amazingly compared to Tony Montana.

The supporting actors were also amazing, mainly Sean Penn, that really embraced his character, Kleinfeld, a stressed-out, corrupt lawyer, who betrays everyone around him. John Leguizamo is also great as 'Benny from the Bronx'.

Overall the film is very well paced, as it begins with a bit of action, when Carlito returns to his neighbourhood, goes on revolving around him getting his life back on track and making plans with Gail, and ends with the thrilling and greatly edited scenes of the Grand Central Station chase. Finally, when he's shot, you're left wondering if there was any way out to begin with, and if there's really a possibility of 'paradise', even for a reformed gangster like himself.
13 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
underrated perfect film
gusdanjaq11 March 2010
This has to be one of the most unfairly underrated film in movie history. It's a perfect film, and much better than any other De Palma film (I am a big fan of De Palma but this film is just perfect). Ex-drug dealer Carlito Brigante, recently released from prison, tries to live a decent live while dealing with the ever present temptations of going back to it's old one (mostly from his friends, who aren't very happy with the idea of Carlito becoming a decent citizen). He is always accompanied by his best friend and lawyer David Kleinfeld, who is a coke addicted and increasingly paranoid lawyer with dubious connections in the mob world. As you can see, with friends like these it would be a hard job for Carlito to abandon his old life. However he finds strength and inspiration to continue his efforts of cleaning his act by reuniting with his old love (from before he went to jail) Gail. This story is a perfect thriller whose structure and development feels a lot like a Greek tragedy reinterpreted as a film noir. There are few action sequences, but the dialog is so perfect that you just want to know more and more about the characters. The few action sequences are beautifully filmed, and i assure you: you will not be disappointed, they will keep you on the edge of your seat. The performances are great, Pacino gives a great Humphrey Bogart-like performance as the ex-con always tormented by his past (the narration is also great, it clearly shows us how Carlito is feeling, and how i think an ex-con would think trying to clean his act with temptations in every corner). Sean Penn gives an academy award worthy performance by giving a believable approach to Carlito's increasingly drug addicted, paranoid and even homicidal lawyer. The beautiful Penelope Ann Miller gives us a wonderful performance as Carlito's only positive influence and inspiration in his life (I think this performance should have established her as strong leading lady, but as i said, this movie doesn't have even half of the recognition it deserves). All in all, Is a great movie, and personally, one of my all time favorites (if not favorite). Great Performances, Perfect Film.
18 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
More human than "Scarface."
MovieAddict201611 October 2005
"Scarface" was a great operatic film rooted in Greek tragedy, primarily the downfall of its protagonist related to his own hubris and pride. Its over-the-top theatrics and scenery-chewing acting complemented the absurdist tone of the film; some carping critics complained it was "too violent," but it was silly violence...and it worked.

"Carlito's Way" is considered by many to be a companion piece of sorts to "Scarface" - but in its own ways it is vastly different. As "GoodFellas" differed a great deal from "Casino" in its narrative methods, "Carlito's Way" isn't as broad and theatrical as "Scarface." Of course, it's still a DePalma film, and that means we get some beautiful set pieces - but for the most part DePalma avoids his excessive visuals and instead opts for a balanced mixture of both storyline and directorial flair. It is not a sequel to "Scarface" - it is an expansion, and it seems entirely apt that its narrative is more mature, considering that Carlito Brigante (the main character) is wiser than Tony Montana from "Scarface." Carlito is a Puerto Rican ex-con who gets out of a thirty-year jail sentence based on a technicality after serving a mere five years of sentence. Faced with a new life and fresh horizons, he decides to heed the lessons he learned in jail and embark on a new and honest lifestyle.

"Scarface" was Greek tragedy insofar as Tony Montana was doomed to a downfall based on his own egotism and stubbornness. Like Oedipus in Sophocles' classic story, Montana was too bull-headed to take the advice of his wife and friends and was entirely responsible for his own emotional (and, in "Scarface's" case, physical) demise.

"Carlito's Way" is the flip side of the coin. It's still Greek tragedy, but it offers a new perspective. This time, the protagonist tries to change his fate, but his life is doomed to its inevitable conclusion. Carlito tries to change his ways, but - to paraphrase a character from another film - there is only one guarantee...Carlito Brigante will never see heaven. That's the fundamental truth of this movie, and DePalma's less showy camera-work, and the more mature characterizations by the actors, and the believable script, ensure that "Carlito's Way" is an entirely human experience - far more so than "Scarface." (Which is still a great film based on its own goals.)
92 out of 112 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A brilliant gangster movie!
morfeus31 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the two greatest works of a true master - Brian de Palma. Just like it's "brother", Scarface, the movie gives us an insight of a criminal world, with all it's cruelty, deceit, lies and fatal decisions which can change ones life forever. As we observe the last days of a retired gangster Carlito Brigante, it's hard not to admire skills of the director, as a quite usual story of a good guy trying to quit "the business" turns into an epic and a cult movie right in front of our eyes. The movie also contains some important messages, and one of the most important is: "Never give up your friends, no matter what..." The movie has excellent cast (Pacino is great as usual, and Sean Penn does an amazing job as a repulsive corrupted lawyer) directing and soundtrack. 10/10, a true crime classics.
51 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
As good as it gets, a must for any fan of Scarface (1983).
jpy8 February 2001
Carlito's Way (1993), is a brilliant cinematic work. Pacino's performance as Carlito Berganzi displays the duplicity and subsequent torment between his reformed spirit, and the endless seduction of the street, embodied more specifically as his reputation,legacy,those who know him, of him, and those whom he allows in his innermost circle. Sean Penn is phenomenal as the lawyer representing Carlito, his metamorphosis into character is testament to his depth of talent. Penelope Ann Miller, as the long-suffering love of Carlito's life is dramatically and visually enchanting. The casting is perfect. The supporting cast superb, perfectly augmenting the film. The script is alive with literary devices, the story line(s), characters, dialogue, themes, sub-texts,etc., make this an almost endlessly watchable film. Of this genre, Its all there, action, suspense, violence, confrontations, chases, prerequisite street and wise guy character profiling with the right dialogue to make it work. Directed, executed and rendered a cinema great. Carlito's Way is atypical of the gangster genre, although it adheres to certain basics. It is also a love story, not boy meets girl, ad nauseum, but real, destined soul mates, wrenched apart and thrown back together five years later by some abberation of fate. As one experiences spiritual,moral disintegration, the other the anti-thesis. Carlito's Way is a mix of genre's veiled with diligent artistic discretion. I even see certain thematic similarities to Casablanca. Watching Carlito's Way I had the feeling that De Palma wanted to resurrect and redeem poor old Tony Montana, Scarface (1983). Perhaps it was self-redemption, or a means to a great film with a second view or maybe the fun of bringing back that great ensemble of talent, based on a similar theme. A sequel of sorts, not to diminish either film in anyway. Released exactly ten years after Scarface, the comparisons are more than obvious. Ten years later, De Palma and Pacino. Oliver Stone missing, but another great script. In Carlito's Way, Pacino again plays a Hispanic drug lord. Now Puerto Rican in New York City, before Cuban in Miami. Now drug lord repentant, whereas in Scarface, drug lord vehemently unrepentant and devoid of remorse, from beginning to surrealistic end. Instead of classic gangster genre prerequisites employed in Scarface, such as, coming from the bottom, rising in status, trust and favour in the eyes of the mob boss, eventually killing him, and gaining his empire his woman(Michelle Pfeiffer). Love? Its not in the equation- Carlito only wants to unite with his TRUE LOVE. To redeem himself in her eyes, after causing her the heartbreak of losing him forever.(Which it would have been, if not for the quirk of intervention by Carlito's coke addicted, sociopathic lawyer). Carlito seeks solely to prove to his love that he is truly changed, honest, sincere, and even has a plan whereupon they can live happily ever after. Carlito and his girl are likeable. Upon viewing this film one is compelled to empathy, wanting them to escape insurmountable odds (the almost onmniprescent serpent-like "street"), finding and deserving of happiness as long as they may live. However, it is though The Angel of Death has been hidden somewhere in every frame of De Palma's film, casting a shadow, waiting patiently to put his hand upon...

Even the ancillary characters from Scarface are brought back in legions for Carlito's Way. Carlito's Way is Scarface with "feelings". Which is another similarity in the two films, "feelings" is the Achille's Heel of both Carlito Berganzi and Tony Montana. I also believe both films were vastly underrated and overlooked by the mainstream media, but upon populist vote, they are both widely esteemed as "classic". I'd give Carlito's Way (1993) nine out of ten. If I saw a ten, it would be a life changing event.
107 out of 134 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Al Pacino's best film performance post-1990!
hnt_dnl9 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
CARLITO'S WAY (1993) is the real best Al Pacino performance after 1990. Love him in his Oscar-winning role in SCENT OF A WOMAN (1992); it's not as overrated as people say and he is infectiously good in that. But in CARLITO'S WAY, Mr. Pacino plays the more difficult role of Carlito Brigante, who deserves as much respect as Michael Corleone or Tony Montana! I've got to preface the rest of my review by saying that I've seen this film a bunch of times, starting with right after it first came out in the early 90s and have loved it ever since. It is one of those films that has EVERYTHING in it that will appeal to anyone. You like Action? CHECK...Romance? CHECK...Drama? CHECK...Thrills? CHECK...Humor? CHECK...This is one of the rare films that has it all!

The legendary Pacino seemed to specialize in playing ambitious, crafty, respected gangsters and Carlito is no exception in those general aspects; but in this film, Carlito is in large parts different from both Corleone or Montana; whereas both Corleone and Montana were very powerful men that controlled empire throughout the bulk of their films, Carlito WAS a powerful gangster who lost his empire and did jail time; also, Corleone and Montana were inherently suspicious and possessive men to the point of being paranoid, and dare I say it, inherently evil; whereas Carlito was justifiably suspicious, but also ironically forgiving and accepting of other people's shortcomings and at his core, a GOOD man! The other 2 men chose to live a certain way and either never tried to redeem himself (Corleone) or never had a chance (Montana), but Carlito has lived the hard, gangster lifestyle, paid for his sins, and now wants redemption and to start anew. From the moment the film starts in 1975 with his courtroom speech (the only pure comic moment in the film) "thanking" the judge for releasing him early from his 30-year prison sentence (he only served 5 years) to the very end, the viewer HAS to root for Carlito Brigante!

Carlito, upon release, wants to start a whole knew life and become legitimate. No more drug-dealing, no more killings. He wants to play it straight. Carlito's lawyer that gets him off is Dave Kleinfeld (played by the great Sean Penn in a superb performance), a shady man who is hooked on drugs and has his own troubles as he has stolen money from one of his other imprisoned gangster clients, who finds out about it and blackmails Kleinfeld into helping break him out of prison. This is definitely one of my favorite Sean Penn performances and ironically in a supporting role. He's effortless as this scuzzy, posing, pathetic, out-of-his-league lawyer and in a way, his tale is as tragic as Carlito's.

The film's first ironic moment occurs when Carlito's young cousin gets him into a scrape with some low-level drug dealers in a crappy gin-joint/pool hall, where Carlito must use his old school cunning and instincts to survive. His cousin had $30,000 to make the deal for the drugs, but the dealers were going to kill him and keep the drugs and money for themselves. Carlito can't save his inexperienced cousin, but outsmarts the dealers and gets away with the money. He uses that money to buy into a partnership with disco-owner Sasso.

At this point, he sees a dancer one night that reminds him of his old girlfriend Gail (Penelope Ann Miller in a sexy, sweet performance). He seeks out Gail one night after her dance class and they go to a diner to talk about their past and possible future. Honestly, I think that "beauty" is an overrated word and there are even actresses that are (supposedly) beautiful in real life that don't do it for me on screen, but Miller as Gail totally does it for me! Gail is a REAL woman, who, like Carlito has goals, ambitions, desires and they complement each other perfectly. Gail is sexy in a very natural way.

Things look good for Carlito, but feeling he must help Dave out of his scrape, he goes along with him the night of the prison escape on a boat with the gangster's son and Dave kills the son against Carlito's wishes. Carlito cleans his hands of Dave. But there is another up and coming gangster Benny Blanco (John Leguiziamo in a wonderful performance) that has an unhealthy admiration for Carlito and won't leave him alone. So Carlito finds himself surrounded by all these shady types that he can't shake. He decides to run away with Gail, who is pregnant.

Directed by the great Brian DePalma, CARLITO'S WAY is a very authentic period piece as he captures the essence of the 1970s without the film bogging itself down in that time period. The focus is on the characters and the story, but has an epic feel with a lot of long-view tracking shots, an operatic score, and Pacino's brilliant narration of his characters thoughts and emotions. The cinematography is amongst the best I've ever seen in a modern film. All these elements perfectly complement the bombastic personality, yet contemplative nature of Carlito Brigante. I don't know if I've ever seen a film where virtually all non-human elements of the film reminded TOTALLY of it's main character! Another thing...this film is almost 2 and 1/2 hours long and is NEVER boring! That's an incredible feat in and of itself.

Great supporting work is also provided by Luis Guzman (as Carlito's right hand man Pachanga), James Rebhorn (as the D.A. out to nail Kleinfeld), Paul Mazursky (as the judge who freed Carlito), and my favorite one played by Viggo Mortensen (as the wheelchair-bound Lalin, an old associate of Carlito's).

But in the end, this film is ALL Mr. Pacino's, who effortlessly essays the title character and gets some of the most quotable dialogue in the gangster genre of film. A top 10 film of the 1990s!
10 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Simply magnificent film!
dd1-716 August 2008
Wow. It is excellent film. Al Pacino has played the best role. Even in film the Godfather, it was not so is magnificent! The plot on a sight is simple enough, but in it its surprising appeal. To come off this film it is impossible not for a minute. Certainly important role in this masterpiece it has gone right Sean Penn, and it is very good, that for that moment it required money! I shall note also, that the main female role obviously concedes to the main things man's, but not because it plays badly. It plays well, but Al Pacino and Sean Penn are simply magnificent. The ending is good, when all seems, that to the protagonist удалосб, and we are waited with the USUAL "good" ending, but there is no also this moment very sentimental. As a result - look this film, differently you will lose much. It is better, than The Dark Knight. Oops

P.S. I Am sorry for my English
9 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Last Temptation
tieman6411 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"I've dropped myself into straightforward character pieces in order to explore that form and reap its values. But you are sort of restricted visually when your first requirement is to tell a fairly straightforward story. So I'd like to go back and develop pure visual storytelling. Because to me, it's one of the most exciting aspects of making movies and almost a lost art at this point." - Brian De Palma

There's a scene in Brian De Palma's "Carlito's Way" in which Al Pacino stands outside his lover's door, watching as she slowly undresses. Pacino pants like a dog in heat, salivating over the beauty of her naked body. Unable to contain himself he breaks the door down and lunges for his woman, their lips locking as he embraces her soft flesh. De Palma's camera then giddily circles the couple, "You Are So Beautiful" blazing on the soundtrack. The moment of passion escalates, the camera circling faster and faster, their feverish kisses becoming more wet, more sloppy, until she looks into Pacino's eyes and says: "Where's my cheesecake?"

It is with moments like these that director Brian De Palma acknowledges that "Carlito's Way" is one giant slice of cheese. This is art for art's sake, a purely formal exercise in which De Palma indulges his fetish for sexy aesthetics. He pushes every motion and emotion to operatic proportions, ringing every ounce of drama from what is really a fairly generic plot. With its impeccable compositions, precise camera work, glacial tracking shots, baroque tone, sublime action sequences and flamboyant acting, this is a film in love with its own form.

But for a film so preoccupied with surfaces, it's remarkable how much emotion De Palma wrings out of his cast. De Palma has a fondness for bad actors, often deliberately casting them as props or undermining their performances. Indeed, his leading men (Michael J Fox, Josh Hartnett, John Travolta etc) are often clueless actors who themselves play clueless characters, and his leading women (Melanie Griffith, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Romjin, Nancy Allen etc) are often models or vacuous pretty faces who likewise play airheads, hookers or prostitutes. This is a guy preoccupied with surface beauty, even as his films are explicitly preoccupied with the dirty veneer behind such surfaces ("Redacted", for example, is about the lie behind beautifully composed photographs). And even when De Palma does cast genuine talent (Pacino, Penn, Lithgow) he has them play larger than life characters, their raging opera performances designed to match his shamelessly grandiose vision.

In "Carlito's Way" De Palma has Al Pacino play Carlito Brigante, an ageing gangster who has recently been released from jail. Carlito is determined to go straight, staying out of trouble until he can amass enough money to retire to some paradisaical tropic island. It's a generic plot, but Pacino and De Palma mesh so perfectly that the film eventually transcends its B movie premise and becomes, at times, something a bit more sublime.

Odd for a gangster movie, "Way" aligns itself firmly with the world of noir. Gangster movies typically follow a fairly obvious narrative progression. We get rise, the good times, and the fall, the bad times. "Carlito's Way" is odd in that it treats the fall as a forgone conclusion, its dying protagonist narrating his death dream like Fred MacMurray in "Double Indemnity". This is a conspiratorial world, Carlito pulled around like a puppet on a string by some unseen, cosmic noir God. Indeed, upon being released from jail, every action Carlito does, every choice he makes, is righteous and admirable. And yet noir fatalism thwarts him at every turn, his choices unable to halt an almost predetermined finale. And so the "Way" of the film's title refers both to Carlito's spiritual path, his newfound desire to be good and do right, but also something more inexorable; the "way", the fixed route. Rehabilitated or not, Carlito's tragedy is that there was never any chance of escape.

And so while in "Scarface" Pacino's manic performance gelled perfectly with De Palma's cocaine inspired direction, in "Carlito's Way" his forlorn eyes mesh flawlessly with De Palma's melancholic visuals. At 53 years of age, Pacino's face has never looked this beautifully tragic. Framed by a jet black beard, Pacino walks about like Jesus on a good hair day, suffering for sins he can not atone. Already dead, he spends the film always dressed in black, navigating his death dream like a fallen angel. Watch too how Pacino spends the film alternating between a stance of fast-talking macho posturing and one of melancholic regret. He wears the face of a corpse, of defeat and acceptance, his flashes of confidence a hip old mask which doesn't know if its going or staying.

And yet in death Carlito does receive a spiritual redemption of sorts. He may not have escaped his past, but he does help his lover, a stripper who dreams of being a ballerina, escape hers. And so when De Palma chooses to end the film with another airing of "You Are So Beautiful", we know that the song has a dual function. We celebrates Carlito's newfound spiritual beauty, but also the aesthetic beauty of De Palma's filmic world.

8.5/10 - Stylish. De Palma's one of the few directors able to convey a sense of true three dimensional space. His crane shots are gorgeous, and the film is composed of numerous long takes, elegant whip pans, and zooms so precise that we switch from long shots to close ups almost imperceptibly. Worth multiple viewings.
13 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
DePalma's moment of grace
arno200516 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The long, slow-paced, black and white introduction with the death of Carlito, a small time gangster who cannot help but fail(Pacino, in the part of an actor's lifetime)is a pure moment of grace. One cannot help but to shiver for him at the end during the long and riveting runaway sequence in the underground, one that I managed to see quite a lot of times, and every time a part of me still believes that it's going to be all right, he'll get out of a life of betrayal, small crooks and cons, but he ends up getting killed, as the introduction scene shows it. De Palma's direction is once again inspired, especially when Carlito looks at his love interest under the rain, hiding from a it under a garbage can, watching her dance or during the action sequences. It's probably DePalma's film with the most obvious references to Hitchcock or Welles. (the snooker scene is just brilliant). An incredible movie about redemption, about the cost of happiness, and about failure, with a spectacular casting (a special mention to Sean Penn)and an incredible script. Probably one of the best film of the 90's.
8 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of the best crime dramas of the 90's
Johnny05816 March 2005
Brian De Palma and Martin Bregman, the guys who were responsible for the gangster classic "Scarface" had scored another classic with "Carlito's Way". Based on a novel by Edwin Torres, the screenplay adaptation, who incredibly was about to be turned down by Bregman, is one of the best crime movies of the 90's or perhaps of all time.

I was always curious about this movie and waited over 10 years to see it. I finally decided to just buy the DVD, and let me tell you it was the best twelve bucks i've ever spent in my life. I was not disappointed one bit.

Al Pacino gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Carlito Brigante, a Puerto Rican hustler from the 70's who has just served five years in prison and has vowed to live a clean life and stay away from crime, but finds it very difficult to stay out of the streets and out of trouble once he gets back to the old neighborhood and meets up with his old acquaintances, and little by little finds himself going back to the same life that put him behind bars in the first place. Sean Penn gives another Oscar-worthy performance as Brigante's lawyer and friend David Kleinfeld, who is very much involved in Brigante's world of crime in his own way and is way crazier and reckless than he looks. Penelope Ann Miller is great and very sexy as Pacino's love interest Gail. The rest of the supporting cast is excellent as well: Luis Guzman, as Carlito's right hand man Pachanga, the then-unknown Viggo Mortensen, in a short appearance as Carlito's acquaintance, Lalin, and of course one of the most memorable characters, John Leguizamo as a drug-dealer with high ambitions, "Benny Blanco from The Bronx". This movie is filled with great dialogue and even greater performances and is one of those movies that usually critics pound but that audiences love for generations. The movie's soundtrack is great as well, the disco hits and the salsa music perfectly fit the mood of every scene and truly take you back to that time. This is by far one of Pacino's best movies in his career and he should've definitely at least been nominated for an Oscar. Definitely worth to be in your collection if you're a fan of crime dramas or gangster flicks. 10 out of 10.
8 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Brilliant Filmmaking
Gordon_Six_Echo10 December 1998
"Carlito's Way" is to me, a milestone in the careers of Al Pacino, Sean Penn, and director Brian De Palma. The quality and drama of this movie surpasses that of even "Scarface", which was also directed by De Palma and starred Pacino. Penn's performance and totally unrecognizable appearance are mind blowing, and Pacino's sympathetic hitman, turned night club investor trying to go straight is one the actor's greatest achievements. In the field of mob/gangster films, this one is a true classic
8 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
So human and yet so cruel
Dr_Coulardeau28 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A gangster in New York gets thirty years in prison. But his lawyer manages to have that reduced to five years. He is truly trying to remain clean and to make some rather honest money in a club, though he gets the necessary investment from a bad deal that had cost the life of a few people. He was only an asset to a younger dealer, a recommendation, a referee if you want, aired and exhibited by the younger one. But that younger one was dealing with young gangsters and of course they tricked him into dying, losing his money and getting nothing, except that Carlito puts things right, to his own and sole benefit. But he has to deal with a vast Italian family in his club and outside. The main twist in the plot is that the lawyer who rescued him out of prison had been dealing with these gangsters, and this family in particular, even trapping one in prison after appropriating the million dollars this particular gangster had made in his business. But a lawyer will always be an amateur gangster and he drags Carlito into the last act of his own drama. That will cost their lives to the lawyer, Carlito and half a dozen members of the family in the brilliant setting of Grand Central Station. At the very moment when he could have walked out of this life of outcast crime, he is reminded that the leash that is attached around his neck will never disappear. This film has some depth somewhere about the great ease with which honest people can become dishonest, and at times with the idea that they are not dishonest since the people they steal or rob are thieves themselves. The code of the street is all powerful and definitely stronger than any law imaginable. The film is brilliant too as an action film, even, this time with suspense and great actors, Al Pacino being doubled up by Sean Penn. Brilliant rendering of the dilemma of a drug lord turned old and would-be honest.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Cocaine-addict lawyer? Now where have I seen that before?
rebeccahillary23 May 2007
Every time I see Carlito's Way, I always have to think that it's what The Godfather III could have been if only they'd tried harder. With Charlie Brigante trying to go straight it almost mirrors Michael Corleone's attempt to make the 'family business' legitimate. The big difference is that in Carlito's Way we aren't seeing a vain attempt to cash in on the success of a popular film series, which really is all The Godfather III ever was.

Al Pacino was on fine form in the title role, but is probably outshone by Sean Penn as the coke-addict lawyer, David Kleinfeld, who was almost certainly the inspiration for Ken Rosenberg in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which of course is directly connected by the involvement of Luis Guzman in both titles - as Pachanga in Carlito's Way and as the voice of Ricardo Diaz in GTA: Vice City.

Also it's good to see Viggo Mortensen in a role so vastly different to those he played in Lord of the Rings, Hidalgo or even GI Jane. As an actor who usually plays such strong characters, it is a refreshing change (if you can regard it as such) to see him in a wheelchair with a colostomy bag.

All round well acted, beautiful setting, and some laugh-out-loud moments to boot. What more could you want from a gangster film?
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A brilliantly told crime/character relations drama with plenty of principals going for it.
johnnyboyz11 October 2006
'Carlito's Way' is another fantastic example of a film chronicling the rise 'and rise' and fall of a petty gangster. This time there's a bit of a twist in the initial narrative as the gangster anti-hero is attempting to 're-rise' the hierarchy, albeit briefly for cash purposes, upon being released form prison.

I really and genuinely liked Carlito's Way. I thought it was funny, well paced, contained likable/dislikeable characters to whom you could really get stuck into as a viewer and just generally held its own for two hours. What I really liked about the film was the use of mise-en-scene; particularly the use of setting and lighting. It seemed that different shades and tones were used for different scenes and moods. The colour red was used to distinguish danger and warnings where as other, lighter colours acted as relief. Examples can be when the colour red was used in the club scenes. Confrontation is always a possibility with eventual party-pooper 'Benny from the Bronx' when the club is the setting and this continuous threat acted nicely with the lighting, just as the red lighting in the strip club when Carlito sees his love interest working there, it has a sort of 'shock factor' to it as he feels confrontation with his own emotions and probably a little bit of a heart broken feeling, also.

Whenever this red light crops up in the film, Carlito is facing danger and/or conflict with himself or others and it is threatening his American dream of moving to the Caribbean. Thus, the lighting signals where and when he'll have is conflicts along his journey to a retirement of some sort.

The feel the film has to it is also very realistic. When Carlito is involved in an early shoot out in a bar, he is taking cover in the toilets and is genuinely concerned about the dangers that lie in the bar area waiting for him and although he doesn't realise he's already done the business, he treats the situation like it's critical; issuing threats, buying time and trying to think up a plan of escape even though there's no need.

Al Pacino really pushes home his character in this film. We see the two sides of Carlito at numerous, well paced times and it's a real treat. The reformed, kind hearted Carlito is blended in very well with the once violent, ruthless, professional Carlito that ultimately got him into prison in the first place. This reminds us that there are two sides to him and alters our opinion on him throughout. The violent distractions that frustratingly pop up for Carlito act as a mental subplot in the film and they really add to the character and to the experience of the film.

This is well directed, well thought out and well acted. The action scenes, shootouts, dialogue driven scenes and love interest scenes are all blended in very well and make for a superb, gritty action-crime drama.
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
greatest of all time!
vanwilder068720 April 2006
for me, this movie has the greatest

gangster ever portrayed on screen. i love how pacino approached the role.

i like the way he actually acts like an old man and not one of those old gangsters who just sit there and give the pay-out. whenever something happens in the movie, he shows he's old by the way he acts to the

situation, always with a look on his face as if to say 'i'm too old for all

this'. its definitely pacinos best work and a must for any gangster,

drama flicks.
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
There is a before and after this film in my life.
el_monty_BCN10 January 2001
I see other comments in this section that go along the same lines and they are very close to what I feel about Carlito's Way. I remember the first time I watched Carlito's Way, aged 18, as one of the most cathartic experiences in my life. At the end, I was choking with emotion, my eyes were welling with tears and my trembling hands instinctively rose in the air and clapped, as I shouted "Bravo!", even if the rest of the auditorium were already grabbing their coats as if they had just watched any old movie. The infinite beauty of this romantic tragedy had left me gobsmacked and I just wanted to stay there and sit through the whole thing again, straight away. For weeks afterwards I became obsessed with the world of Carlito Brigante, with Al Pacino, with Brian De Palma (I also saw Scarface in that period, and it instantly became another of my all-time favourites). I had already loved movies before, but Carlito's Way cemented my love for cinema forever and made it into a passion. And ever after I saw Carlito's Way, I have been going to the cinema as often as I can, driven by the hope that another film will come along that can make me feel the same "high" as that unforgettable day. A handful have achieved it (Shawshank, Seven, 12 Monkeys, Cidade de Deus...), but Carlito will always stay in my mind as the film that discovered me the overwhelming power of what a roll of 35 mm celluloid tape can do to the human soul.
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Carlito's Way is one of Pacino's most underrated films
Joecool1-115 June 2010
The actors in this film are outstanding, from Pacino & Sean Penn to Penelope Ann Miller & an early John Leguizamo this film sports an outstanding cast. Brian De Palma is also in fine form here as he directs this movie seemingly without effort and with his usual unique (these days) style. The film is a seen as a sequel of sorts to Scarface, but saying that does Carlito's Way an injustice. Carlito's Way stands apart and on it's own very well. The world in this film is fascinating to behold, a bit of mob, a character wanting to reform, a love story and an action story. Also Pacino has a lot of nice sayings in this film. If Scarface is a 10 then Carlito's Way should be a 9. This film has been too underrated for far too long, it's time justice was done which is why I gave it the deserving 9 stars. You can read my full review of the Blu-ray here if you wish - http://www.movie-vault.com/reviews/carlitos-way-bluray/
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed