The Funeral (1996) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
49 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
beautifully and intelligently made
LATENITE7 August 2002
I have always been impressed by the dramatic intensity of Abel Ferrara's films and 'The Funeral' does not fall short of any of them. The true beauty of this film lies in its characters and their emotions and relationships. The plot takes second stage but, honestly, the incredible acting performances will make you feel that a more complicated plot would be absolutely unnecessary. All the important bases of small-time mob life are covered here - God, family, revenge, lies, anger, etc. If you can sit down and watch a movie that chooses atmosphere and character over action, then I highly recommend this movie. You will be blown away.
29 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the most underrated movies of the last ten years! Very subtle and intelligent with some unforgettable performances.
Infofreak4 June 2003
Abel Ferrara is one of the most original and interesting directors in America movies. He is also one of the most uneven. The guy has made some garbage and some near masterpieces in his time, so you really have to judge each one of his movies on an individual basis. 'The Funeral' is an excellent movie, easily Ferrara's most overlooked effort, and one which doesn't deserve the obscurity it's been doomed to. It's almost as impressive as 'Bad Lieutenant' and 'The King Of New York', yet I very rarely hear it even mentioned. I really don't know why! The movie has one major stumbling block that the viewer must accept before they can begin to get on with watching. That is the casting of Christopher Walken ('The Dead Zone'), Chris Penn ('Reservoir Dogs') and Vincent Gallo ('Buffalo '66'). Three great actors sure, but playing blood brothers?! Also we see that the youngest brother Johnny (Gallo) is supposedly 22(!), and via flashback his two older siblings look only three, maybe four years older. This would make Ray (Walken) in his late twenties, which is absolutely ludicrous. However, if you can put this all to one side and not let it worry you then you will be pleasantly surprised. Some viewers complain that the movie is "slow", "boring" and that "nothing happens". I totally disagree. Of course if you think it's going to be a Mafia thriller or some kind of action movie you will be disappointed. But I thought it was fascinating and very involving. Walken is excellent as usual, Gallo doesn't have an awful lot of screen time but shows why he is one of the most charismatic and exciting actors around, and Chris Penn gives the best performance of his career. Penn alone is worth watching the movie for, he is just so damn good. The supporting cast is one of the best you'll see anywhere. The brother's women are played by Annabella Sciorra ('Cop Land'), Gretchen Moll ('Rounders') and Isabella Rossellini ('Blue Velvet'), and other familiar faces include the wonderful Benicio Del Toro ('The Usual Suspects'), The Sopranos' John Ventimiglia and (very briefly!) Edie Falco, and Ferrara regulars Victor Argo ('Taxi Driver') and Paul Hipp ('Teenage Caveman'). Also keep an eye out for David Patrick Kelly ('The Crow') as a left wing agitator. Every time I watch 'The Funeral' I appreciate it a little more. It's a very subtle and intelligent film that doesn't serve things up to you on a plate. I think it's one of the most underrated movies of the last ten years and I wholeheartedly recommend it. If this is your first experience of Abel Ferrara and you enjoy it, I suggest the moody 'The King Of New York' (also with Christopher Walken) next, then his powerful 'Bad Lieutenant' (Harvey Keitel) and his difficult but rewarding 'The Addiction' (Walken again). Those four movies are his best to date, and not to be missed.
30 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Another flawed Ferrara masterpiece
pearceduncan20 April 2001
All of director Abel Ferrara's movies are deeply flawed, but he is willing to take you into darker places than almost any contemporary filmmaker. His best movies are the bleakest kind of cinematic art, and The Funeral is one of the best.

To complain about the lack of action in this gangster movie is to miss the entire point. This is a character study of people who have made choices in their lives that have left them without hope, in much the same way as Ferrara's "Bad Lieutenant". Although it is often pretentious and a little boring, it also contains many potent, unforgettable scenes, most notably those featuring Chris Penn, who I frankly didn't think could act until I saw this movie.

"The Funeral" is an unremittingly dark film that at times achieves a terrible beauty. I'm not sure that I would recommend it, but I am extremely glad to have seen it.
18 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Another interesting piece from Ferrara who goes for the mind and leaves you silent.
mifunesamurai16 February 2003
Once again Ferrara attracts big star names to a small picture with large ambitions. This film would have made a great gangster saga but Ferrara and writer St. John are more interested about the characters than the story. What occurs on the surface may be minimal and very uncreative but deep within you enter the souls of each character who question their values as they mourn the death of a family member. Each one carrying a dilemma to the very surprising ending. This film could have been set in any era as it deals with intelligent issues such as the complex male macho image as questioned by Sciorra's character.
15 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Unsatisfactory Conclusion for a Story of Violence
claudio_carvalho16 May 2017
In the 30's, in New York, the coffin of the leftist gangster Johnny Tempio (Vincent Gallo) is brought to the house of his older brother Ray (Christopher Walken) for the wake of family and friends. Ray is a cold gangster that likes to read and is married to Jean (Annabella Sciorra). His brother Chez (Chris Penn) is a hot head that runs a bar and is married to Clara (Isabella Rossellini). Ray decides to revenge the murder of his younger brother and believes the gangster Gaspare (Benicio Del Toro) is the one who killed Johnny. Meanwhile Chez has a breakdown with tragic consequences for the Tempio brothers.

"The Funeral" is a violent movie directed by Abel Ferrara with great characters that are developed through flashbacks along the main storyline. There are great performances and scenes but unfortunately, it seems that neither the writer nor the director knew how to end the story that has an unsatisfactory conclusion. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Os Chefões" ("The Bosses")
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Solid Ferrara movie that takes the glamour out of gangsters
bob the moo16 March 2002
The lives of gangster brothers Ray, Chet and Johnny are changed forever when Johnny is killed. His funeral acts as a time to look back at the past but also to look inwardly and to the future. The story is told in flashbacks that mix the past and present to see a gangster life style in all it's glory.

The story here is straightforward – however it's multi-layered flashbacks and subplots make it too confusing at times. In simple terms it is two stories – Johnny before he is killed, and the lives of his brothers afterwards. The characters make it come to life but the drama inherent in the subject matter helps as well. The story mixes `real' lives, violence and some black humour to good effect – the overall point being the point made by Sciorra when she says `there's nothing romantic about it at all'.

The cast are good – in particular the Ferrara regulars. Walken gives a more emotional version of his King of New York character and carries much of the moral debate with himself and others. Penn is also good as the self destructive brother and gives a powerful performance without becoming OTT (a la Nice Guy Eddie). Gallo is good although his character is not fully explained – why did he look for trouble, why the interest in worker's rights? Rossellini, Argo and Soprano's Ventimiglia are all good and del Toro does yet another quiet cool role.

Overall this is a good film – it is graphic and dark, but not as much as some of his other films. The subject matter will appeal to the mass audience (most people seem to like mobster movies) and his unromantic spin on the genre makes up for the occasionally bitty storyline.
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Bury Our Sins?
jannagal21 November 2005
The Funeral is a dark and gritty story that plumbs the characters in a New York band of criminal brothers. It doesn't have the romantic sweep of a Godfather movie, nor the rawness of Scarface. But it does have great acting: the cold, sinister aloofness of the leader-brother(Christopher Walken); the raging insanity of the bartender-brother(Chris Penn); and, the cockiness of the younger communist-influenced brother. Annabella Scioria as the wife with a tortured psyche who "had two years of college", and Bennissio del Toro, as the suave and slick rival mobster round out the terrific cast.

But the movie does have some problems. The abrupt, "surprise" ending is consistent with the arcs in the movie, and is supported by trends in the characters' developments, but seems unsatisfying. Also, long philosophical conversations between killer and victims seems unrealistic. While these conversations(and flashback sequences) give insight into characters, it just doesn't seem likely.

Watch this movie if you are a fan of crime/Mafia films, and you can enjoy a thoughtful introspection of characters and relationships between characters. Don't watch it if you want to see a "thrill-a-minute", or explosions every other scene.
19 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Mafia's Hearts of Darkness ...
ElMaruecan8222 October 2011
"The Funeral" is a mind-blowing experience that demands a particular patience.

In fact, you don't need the patience to 'get' it, but to try to put yourself in the shoes of men who're nothing but criminals. But as criminals as they are, they are stuck with this last ounce of humanity giving a meaning to their lives. So let's get this straight, if you're among the kind of cinematic fans with a particular revulsion towards gangsters, this film is not for you, all it will inspire is the kind of demagogic comments such as "good riddance, all these low-life bastards deserve their fate". But if you're interested by the torments invading the souls of these underworld humans, prepare yourself for a disturbing and dark journey into Mafia's hearts of darkness.

It's interesting that the central character is played by Christopher Walken, the actor had always an extraordinary combination of mental instability and charismatic aura in his eyes, the kind of man you don't know if it's safe to approach or to avoid him, in both cases, you respect and fear him. But now, we're in this man's soul at a pivotal moment in his life, when he's trying to determine, during the funeral of his brother Johny (Vincent Gallo), not what the meaning of his life is, but how he can live with himself with his personal idea of justice and the satisfaction to do something ethical. Yeah, I see where you're coming from, how can I ever use the word 'ethic' for criminals? Well, ethics refers to a code, to some behavior that doesn't necessarily take the law as a reference, and from that point, anything is debatable. And when the movie says anything, it sure means it, as even God is concerned.

Although the movie is set during Catholic funerals, the first thing that strikes is the amount of blasphemous rants during the discussions. These men don't believe in God, but they don't sound atheists, it's just as if they had a proud reaction over a religion that casted them out anyway. So if they haven't been touched by the divine grace, which could have inspired them to be good people, so why do they have to blame themselves? If everything is due to God, why should they feel guilty? And now, if it all is a matter of free will, and decision, then what makes their acts more condemnable? Any idea of justice is no better or no worse than another … the thought-provoking script invites us to feel an existential empathy toward these men, as if it tried to explicit all the dilemmas that fill the heart of criminals. After all, they have hearts, haven't they? To label them as only cold-blooded murders is another trick to avoid questioning our own approach to evil.

But whatever rationalization it tried to inspire, the counterpart of this thinking relies on the female characters, the wives, who endure the machismo of their husbands and try to figure what the purpose of all this is. Why and how have criminals, killers, fooled them? Some scenes between Annabella Sciorra and Isabella Rosselini suggest a sort of female bonding, as a reactive defensive process from the kind of fusional relationship between the brothers Christopher Walken, Vincent Gallo and Chris Penn -Rest in Peace, Chris, this was your finest performance as the most mentally instable of the three brothers- Never voyeuristic, these scenes of female intimacy where the discussions are intelligently combined with great metaphysic references, translate the lack of morality and belief innate to that cruel male world, and how it can hardly be expressed except in the confinement of a little bedroom.

The whole confinement of "The Funeral", in its setting, is crucial here. There is a cloud of lucidity floating in the air, as if the film trusted our intelligence, by not showing men trying to find excuses, but on the contrary, men extremely lucid about their fate. This is what the whole claustrophobic setting of the film is about, it's an extrapolation of the coffin, symbolizing the whole fate of the family in microcosm. These men are in a dead-end, and they know it damn well. During a heart-breaking scene between Chris Penn and a young prostitute, refusing to deprive her from her innocence, he pays her for not having sex, she asks for the double to have sex with him, provoking an incredible outburst of rage. She'll get paid twice the price then pushed against the wall and assaulted as a punishment for having sold her soul to the devil. This scene brutally reflects these men's understanding of their own conditions : they sold their soul, they know they'll never see the paradise. In other words: their lives are only a suspended sentence to hell. They don't believe in God, but they don't deny His existence either.

So, when it can't get any better, the best you can do is to make it better according to your own codes. And this is the constant disturbing feel of the film, men trying to act according to their sense of justice, their morals, trapped between their humanity and their evilness. Again, Abel Ferrara doesn't invite us to feel empathetic toward gangsters, as sometimes, the movie indecently flirts with some stereotypes to better remind us, the world lying beneath that sober and familial atmosphere. "The Funeral" reflects the affection of true funerals : a profound introspection in order to understand the value of goodness and humanity, because once you put your foot in the dark side, you can't go back, and it doesn't try to fool you with a sort of quest of redemption bullshit. They're grown-up men, and their life IS dead-end. To a point you wonder if the title "Funeral" refers to one man or three souls.

"The Funeral" is an extraordinary, dark and disturbing journey, that will simply wow you at the end … so you better get ready.
10 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Interesting, if Uneven Gangster Drama
RobertF8729 January 2005
When it comes to cult film-maker Abel Ferrara, people seem to either love his work or hate it. I think some of his films are great but some are just rubbish. Fortunately "The Funeral" is far from being rubbish, but then it's not great either.

Set in New York in the 1930s, the film centres on an organised crime family, headed by brothers Ray (Christopher Walken) and Chezz (Chris Penn) who are set to bury their younger brother Johnny (Vincent Gallo). As Johnny's wake progresses the two remaining brothers reflect on his life and try to track down his killer.

The film is pretty well made, and benefits from strong performances all round. It's main defect is that the film tends to lose focus and go off at tangents (scenes where Johnny attends a Communist rally were pretty pointless). Also, as in many Ferrara films, there is a very blatant religious subtext which sometimes gets in the way of the drama. Also, be warned that there is a lot of pretty brutal violence in this film.

If you like gangster films (and obviously if you're a Ferrara fan) give this a go. It's worth trying anyway just for the quality of the performances.
9 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Interesting movie but the sound was awful...
Alea Intrica3 December 2001
I found this an interesting movie, admittedly a bit slow at points, but if you're out for another "crime gone wrong" or "gangster crime war" film, forget it. Several reviews complain about a lack of action. It's not an action film. Several reviews complain about a lack of plot. It's more an examination of characters than a story. The movie would have been much better had I been able to hear more of it. The sound editing is truly abysmal. People's shoes make more noise than their raised voices do. I actually stopped and rewound a few times to try and catch what people said. It's not the fault of the actors. It's simply a bad mix job.

7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Communist mobsters? Now I've seen everything!
vertigo_148 May 2004
Though he was the director of that awful thriller, 'Fear City,' Abel Ferrer offers a movie about mobsters that distinguishes it from a decade of far too many mobster-themed movies in that it does not glorify mob life. Though slow in the introduction and sometimes confusing in structure, 'The Funeral' offers good acting and an intelligent plot.

Ray (Christopher Walken), Chez (Chris Penn), and Johnny (Vincent Gallo) are brothers and members of the same crime family. I suspect that of the small crime unit, the eldest, Ray, is the leader. The film is centered around the funeral of the youngest, Johnny, who was mysteriously shot to death. And the mobsters, especially his brothers, want revenge.

Johnny was an unusual part of such a violent family, too intelligent and often passive. He seemed to be drifting from his destined life of crime, handed down to him from his father to his brothers to him. It is not the role he seeks to fulfill, and it one he often questions, much to the resentment of his brothers, Ray and Chez.

Ray is a much different character than Johnny. As the oldest, he was the first to kill a man when his father offered him a gun to shoot someone he didn't even know. Ray also absconds from any responsibility for what he does, consistenly justifying his actions as something that God forces him to do. Jean (Annabella Sciorra), his wife, asks whether he thinks it is suitable to blame God for his actions. He apparently blinds himself to any reality, and basks in the idea that he is only carrying out someone else's plan. That this is what he has to do. Jean even remarks to Johnny's wife, Helen (Gretchen Mol), that Ray and Chez and everyone else involved just keep perpetrating this one-sided, illiterate way of life.

Chez is yet another counterweight caught in the middle. He is a very sadistic character and one who soon realizes what damage is being done. With Johnny dead and Ray eager for revenge, it is up to him to determine with the cycle continues.

The nature of these characters are particularly interesting in a story that points out the realities of mafia life (for both the mobsters and their wives) as violence begets violence, making for a very intriguing story. Director Abel Ferrer did a good job with this movie. Despite being slow and sometime scattered in focus, it is worth watching.
9 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
There`s One Scene That Sticks In My Mind
Theo Robertson13 August 2004
Abel Ferrara ? Not a movie maker that will appeal to everyone . He`s best known for making DRILLER KILLER a movie far better than it`s given credit for and his only mainstream film is BODY SNATCHERS which is a rather unnecessary remake

THE FUNERAL hints that it wants to be mainstream because everyone loves movies about gangsters don`t they ? , and there are a couple of well known actors in it too . Alas there`s an irritating aspect to the screenplay that wants to make certain characters leftists . Why do movies seem to be under the impression that gangsters have socialist ideals ? The British small budget production FACE had this as did the classic ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA . It`s often been said that the mafia are the most sucessful capitalist concept and I`m inclined to believe that

There`s other audience unfriendly concepts to the movie , most of them being the fault of the director like graphic sex scenes , some serious violence especially at the downbeat conclusion , but the one scene that can`t fade from my mind is the scene where some of the male characters are watching a porn movie in a brothel . Young Johnny turns to the woman sitting beside him and they begin some serious french kissing . Did I mention this woman must be about 70 years old ? YUCK

It`s hardly Ferrara`s best work and it`s probably recommended that potential audience members should familarise themselves with the director`s work before watching it

Four out of ten
5 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Walken & Penn
michaeldaly997 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This was one DIFFERENT gangster picture, brought to you by Abel Ferarra. I first came to know the rather unique director from his infamous DRILLER KILLER... Which is really 90 minutes of my life I'd like to have back. It's the one DVD I own that I'd love to not own. The one DVD I don't even CONSIDER rewatching. And with good reason. It's a jackass of a film. I can't go into it any more without swearing, and then my review won't get put up. Anyway, years after watching, I began to wonder how Ferarra is so known among film fans. Nobody likes The Driller Killer, so that can't be it. I looked him up here, and saw that such noted actors as Christopher Walken and Harvey Keitel have worked with him!! I was quite surprised and then I came across this one rather cheap. And I love gangster films so maybe I'm being a bit biased here.

But this one was rather interesting. These aren't Scorsese style gangsters. They're guys in black suits but their life is much less glamarous. There is much rape and violence and little laughs or friendship. The film focuses on three brothers.. Christopher Walken is legendary in his role as wise but aging family head Ray. Chris Penn plays his rather temperamental (surprise surprise, it being Chris Penn) brother, and Vincent Gallo plays young foolish brother Johnny.

The film opens with the recently deceased Johnny lying in his coffin and everyone gathered around crying. How did he get to be there? The film tells this through flashbacks which occur every few minutes throughout the film, and we also see a part from Ray's youth. Very skilfully done! The time switching happens without us noticing, the film flows so well that we're not in the least bit distracted.

Christopher Walken is Christopher Walken in a Christopher Walken role, Ray... He's taking the Michael Corleone route here, the wise guy, the darker older brother who makes all the decisions for the family. And he's great at it... Chris Penn is Chris Penn in another Chris Penn role. He's completely insane. A brutal, angry man who loses it over nothing and spends his time on screen shouting and swearing at those around him. Chris Penn is really good at this, but I'd like to see him take on an emotional character... He's just doing Nice Guy Eddie over and over again. Vincent Gallo does the Freddie Corleone of the family well, but he's a bit unbelievable as a gangster and the camera has too many close ups on him. Also present in a supporting role is John Ventimiglia, who plays Artie Bucco from The Sopranos! Just thought I'd mention him, brilliant man. There's Benicio Del Toro as the rival gangster boss. He's pretty creepy but doesn't have a big enough part to do the character justice. Overall, the acting out of the two leads - Walken and Penn - is excellent. Typical, but excellent.

Ferarra's been known to be violent and disturbing. Maybe if I'd watched this film a few years back it might have affected me, but it didn't in the least. I am now immune to offense by violence. Some of the film's violent highlights, though, include a stabbing in the heart with a butcher knife, shooting two innocent truck drivers with a shotgun, raping a teenage prostitute (who sold her soul) and an ending pistol massacre.

Despite all this, however, it's an excellent if depressing picture, with many deep and dark performances. The violence is not over the top compared to the likes of De Palma or Scorsese, and it is not disturbing, or maybe that's just me.

I will definitely be seeing more Ferarra movies!
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
More able than interesting
paul2001sw-131 January 2005
Abel Ferrera's gangster film 'The Funeral' resembles a pared-down version of Scorcese's 'Goodfellas', or a truer version of 'The Sopranos'. Utterly unsentimental and chilling, it refuses to add the faintest shine of glamour to its protagonists' lives, and the cast, headed by the vampirish Christopher Walkern, are universally excellent. And yet for all this, it's not actually that interesting. The movie industry is fascinated with violence as a subject; yet the freakishly horrible behaviour of the mafia may be a sad fact of life, but it's also an oddity. This is a good film, but it belongs to an over-exposed genre, with little to say about how ordinary people live. If I have to watch a gangster film, I'd rather chose Jim Jarmusch's hilarious 'Ghost Dog' than a movie that takes its subject so seriously.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
All the ingredients for a masterpiece are present...yet, Ferrara fails.
simonbekaert4 January 2000
The starting point of the movie is very promising. A family gathers around in the house where the body of a murdered young mobster is placed. His two brothers seek revenge, while their wives want to forget the past and end violence. The two brothers are marked by their lifestyle and the dramas they experienced in their youth. While the oldest brother is pretty severe and quiet, the other one is just plain nuts. The movie manoeuvres between flash-backs and present time. A lot of scenes give away what a masterpiece this movie could have been.

Could have...because despite the strong moments, the intense atmosphere and some good acting performances, this movie has too many gaps. The plot is just not coherent enough. Most characters are not worked out properly: Ferrara introduces important information regarding the character and mentality of especially the dead brother, but he doesn't do anything with it.

Some scenes seem to be superfluous, while on the other hand you get the feeling that some vital scenes are missing.

Not once Ferrara manages to get the viewer really involved in the madness of the disturbed brother... and in this respect, the way the movie ends is really a disappointment. It seems like Ferrara realised he almost ran out of pelicule and needed to end the movie quickly. The final scene is brought without any dramatic construction or real logic.

All the ingredients for a masterpiece are present, except a proper working out...and that's a shame.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a light that shines from imperfection
Zen Bones8 January 2001
How does one sum up this film? Disturbing, vague, annoying, unoriginal in theme and in many of its scenes yet...... it is one of those films that haunts one simply by getting under one's skin for those very reasons. If you've seen "Goodfellas" or any other number of Mafia-type films, this will all seem to be familiar territory. There's the typical hot-tempered Italian family complete with the screwed-up brother with low self-esteem, and the wives who acquiesce to their station in life as Madonnas who must bear the weight of their husbands' inner turmoil and support them unquestioningly. And there's the endless scenes of slice-of-life "goomba-chatter", where one feels like they're watching a film of acting exercises rather than something that gives us a sense that we're watching people and not characters. Yet sprinkled in between are moments that one never forgets. Most of them revolve around Christopher Walken. He is a man who is almost at the edge of enlightenment. But he has no belief in God (stated beautifully and eloquently in one stirring scene) and thus he has in a sense made himself God. He passes judgment on who shall live or die. You can see he hates killing but he "must" anyway, and he shows the whole intellectual and emotional process that he goes through in making and passing such judgments. In a striking climax scene, he tells the man who killed his brother that he must die because he is a danger to society. A danger because he can't control his anger. Yet Walken can't even see that he is everything that he accuses this man of. He is a walking tragedy, haunted by that supreme moment in his life when he "became a man" at the age of thirteen (an initiation ritual when his father ordered him to perform his first execution). The loss of innocence was the loss of faith. He knows he's going to hell and chooses it as punishment rather than choosing the possibility of redemption by changing his ways. He even plays God on himself.

Walken delivers a smashing performance that makes the film. Nicholas Cage was originally cast in the role and had he played it, I think the film would have been a disaster. You feel the heat inside Walken AND the solid chill that covers it so that he keeps the illusion of being in control to himself as well as to others. Annabella Scioria does a magnificent job in what is usually a thankless role as the emotionally-wrought wife. Vincent Gallo as the "good" brother is exciting as always. As for Chris Penn, yes he can sing but his acting is way over the top and I was constantly wishing I was watching a George Dzunda who could add the touch of subtlety and pathos that the role required.

The film is incoherent in its use of flashbacks and in some of its muddled character motivations. And a number of times it falls into the familiar cliches of its genre. But it is an original, from-the-heart muddle. It's not a great film by far, but I am grateful to it because it dares to peel under the surfaces of Italian gangsters to show us the wound that is left where faith and innocence had been seared away. Good little film.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Flawed but underrated and unusual "Gangster" movie.
hu6756 October 2010
Giovanni "Johnny" Tempio (Vincent Gallo) is murder in front of a movie theater, since he is the youngest of the three brothers. His older brother Raimundo "Ray" Tempio (Oscar-Winner:Christopher Walken) and his second brother Cesarino "Chez" Tempio (The late Chris Penn) are powerful gangsters. While the funeral is done at Ray's home. Both Ray and Chez are having flashbacks of their late brother and their troubled past. While Ray is trying to find Johnny's killer and finding an reason, why he was murder. While Chez is going through his own personal hell.

Directed by Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant, Body Snatchers "1994", King of New York) made an fascinating, moody, gangster drama with fascinating performances by Walken, Gallo, Annabella Sciorra as Ray's Wife, Isabella Rossellini as Chez's wife, Oscar-Winner:Bencino Del Toro as Gaspare Spoglia and especially Penn as a deeply troubled and ill-tempered Chez. Although "The Funeral" is flawed in places. I hate to admit this but Gallo certainly has an tough time playing the corpse at the funeral. Especially when Ferrara uses close-up of the actor... his eye-lids moves! Also towards the ending, there's another actor, who has an tough time playing an corpse as well!

DVD has an decent Pan & Scan (1.33:1) transfer but the DVD has some digital images problems. DVD has an good Dolby Stereo 2.0 Surround Sound. The DVD is from "Three Films Gangster Collector's Set". "Abel Farrara's The Funeral" is with two another movies on the DVD. Which they are "The Last Days of Frankie the Fly" with the late Dennis Hopper, Daryl Hannah, Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Madson. The other film is "The Immortals" with Eric Roberts, Tia Carrere and the late Tony Curtis.

"Abel Farrara's The Funeral" is close to being an great movie but i will admit it, it's a very good movie, despite some flaws keeping this picture from being an masterpiece. The late Penn gives the strongest impression on the film with his impressive performance, it is certainly the best i seen from him. Other cast members like Walken, Sciorra, Rossellini, Gallo and Del Toro have their moments. If you haven't seen "Abel Farrara's The Funeral", don't miss it. Written by Nicolas St. John (The Addiction, China Girl, Ms. 45). Which St. John has written some of Farrara's best work as a filmmaker. Sciorra is one of the associate producers of the feature. (****/*****).
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Funeral
I_John_Barrymore_I20 March 2009
This dusty, low key, low budget gangster film manages to hold the attention for the most part despite being very derivative and rather dull.

For a character piece it's fatally flawed. The acting is strictly from the shout-and-then-repeat-with-added-F-words school of Italian-American gangster performances and very quickly gets tiresome. In fact it appears that much of it has been improvised, with director Abel Ferrara seemingly content that if the actors shout enough, get suitably red-faced and spittly, and repeat the same question enough times they'll qualify as "intense." They don't.

Chris Penn is the worst offender, turning in an awful performance that wants to be Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant but emerges more like Christopher Lloyd in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Christopher Walken plays himself but even that seems to disinterest him unless he's being given the chance to indulge in some painful "I'm an ac-tor!" moments - best demonstrated in the scene where he cries and shouts at his brother's corpse - and it's left to Gretchen Mol and Isabella Rossellini to deliver the only decent performances.

Considering the budget the period feel is quite good, there's some occasional gratuitous violence to keep things interesting, and the generally depressing mood of the whole piece is quite effective, but those are small compensations for having to sit through all that repetitive shouting and those horribly self-indulgent performances.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Average at Best
salvador_200324 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Funeral is about gangsters Christopher Walken and Chris Penn burying their younger brother, on the evening of his wake (before his funeral) through flashbacks we see their brother and his involvement with crime and criminals. He is having an affair with Benicio Del Torro's wife and so Del Torro is placed in the frame for his murder, as the movie gradually ends, Chris Penn shoots his brothers and the people that work for him.

Apart from two good performances from Walken and Penn, this movie lacks character detail, plot and lacks contemporary quality of the 1930's. There is unconvincing atmosphere between the characters and it is just disappointing.

The highlight of the movie comes from Christopher Walken who whips out some good sayings and seeks his revenge.

I got this film on a three DVD box set with Road to Perdition and Miller's Crossing. I'd already seen Miller's Crossing. I don't think it can be classed in the way that Miller's Crossing can.

Its worth watching but I doubt anyone will watch it for a second time.

3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
More effective than Sominex
Swangirl15 March 2003
As others have stated, this film had the potential to knock an audience off its feet. Consider the stable of talented actors on the cast list. That's what got me to rent it in the first place. With Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Benicio Del Torro and Isabella Rosellini at the helm, what could go wrong?


The youngest of a trio of mob brothers is dead, thus the title of the film. Walken and Penn play the older brothers Ray and Chez, who are seeking little brother Johnny's killer. But the process is slower than watching paint dry. The long-suffering wives (Sciorra and Rosellini) are pretty much a waste of space. They scream, cry and smoke a lot. Little tenderness exists between them and their spouses. Whilst looking for the killer, the brothers drink, carouse and swear a lot.

The movie explores how Johnny got killed in the first place, with an strange plot twist involving communism. Johnny is basically a womanizing jerk that his brothers don't seem to care about much until he's dead. I guess it's the a la famiglia thing.

Walken's about the only worthwhile part of this film, when you're not suppressing a yawn. He tries to breathe life into a fairly lifeless film.

Do yourself a favor. If you're longing for sleep and are out of Sominex, watch this film. It'll have you in dreamland in a matter of minutes.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Brothers in Arms
wes-connors18 January 2010
Possibly psychotic mobster brothers Christopher Walken (as Raimundo "Ray" Tempio) and Chris Penn (as Cesarino "Chez" Tempio) gather with family for "The Funeral" of brother Vincent Gallo (Giovanni "Johnny" Tempio). Like good gangsters, they want to kill the mysterious, dark-clothed figure who shot Mr. Gallo. They pin the hit on rival crime lord Benicio del Toro (as Gaspare Spoglia); brother Gallo has been copulating with his wife three times a week. A nasty character, Mr. Walken wants to chop off Mr. del Toro's legs and slit his throat. And, Mr. Penn begins losing his marbles. But, while the hunt is on, we get to know the three brothers through flashbacks...

While the performances are all fine, the young actors in the early flashback do not match the present day brothers, who do not even remotely resemble each other. Moreover, at his brother's casket, Penn states "Johnny" died at age 22, which would put Walken, Penn, and Gallo in their early to mid-twenties. The storyline takes time to decipher, which is fine; but, it does leave a few questions unanswered. Director Abel Ferrara and Ken Kelsch contribute great style. It's a man's movie, with memorable bookend roles for Paul Hipp (as Ghouly) and Patrick McGaw (in the cooler); but, wives Isabella Rossellini (as Clara) and Annabella Sciorra (as Jean) also hit the mark.

****** The Funeral (8/28/96) Abel Ferrara ~ Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Vincent Gallo, Benicio del Toro
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Filmed theatre...
jszaniaw16 June 2007
I remember going to see 'The Funeral' when it first came out. It stirred me as a film featuring extremely compelling -- and extremely non-compelling elements alike. The acting is fabulous, and each scene in that sense and taken from that perspective is a gem. It's filmed theater, though, not really traditional film acting per se. Every actor does their spiel at one point or the other. Chris Penn might be the most memorable in his boisterous impersonation of a psychotic mobster, but really it's probably Annabella Sciorra and Chris Walken who deliver the most impressive performances. Apart from that, the film truly feels half baked (not always without charm, though): Ferrara is notorious for not being always on top of his storyboard, and one can tell here, definitely, especially since the cinematography is rather ugly and uninspired. The script feels more like a play, really (and save for a few outdoor scenes, the film could have been a play, perhaps with greater success), with long, overwrought dialogue which linger in mind nevertheless. So, all in all, 'The Funeral' might not be a very good film (it actually features a few very weak scenes), but at its best, it is truly memorable, and I guess that's why we like Abel Ferrara: regardless of how bad his films can be, they always have something to deliver.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Moving drama
StayPuft00311 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a little unhappy that it took me so long to hear of this movie. It is truly a movie drama. Some people when they hear about this probably relate it to the Godfather before even seeing it, and they are wrong for doing this. It is dark and gritty which makes it overall realistic. There is a very dark feel to the entire thing and there is basically no comedy, but the character development and emotion make up for it. The performances in this movie are also very good and add to the gritty atmosphere. Christopher Walken gives an unusually serious performance as the head brother of the family. I did not think that he could pull of such a part due to his naturally funny demeanor, but he did, and he did it very well. I also feel that Benicio Del Toro, as always, did a very good part in his role. I did not think that he could do the role of a gangster either, but he was extremely realistic and made the viewer hate him and feel bad for him at the same time. But, I think of all the people in this movie, Chris Penn stole this movie acting wise. To me, he was utterly spectacular in his part as the hot head brother out for revenge. The movie does get slow at some points and does seem choppy, but all in all this is a very good film and if you like gangster dramas and character development, it's for you.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It sure ain't a gangster flick
Col-321 April 1999
Funny. It has Christopher Walken on the cover, it sure looked like a gangster movie. Check out the cast - it looks like the cast of a gangster movie. But brother, if you want to watch a fun gangster flick, rent Harlem Nights, because this is a character study that would be disturbing if it wasn't so dull. There were several disturbing scenes, but not disturbing in a good way (e.g. Casino: "You made me put your head in advice for that piece of ....?") but disturbing in a bad way, e.g. Chris Penn's character Chez basically raping a teenage prostitute. Nobody needs to see that unless it's part of a really good film. which it ain't. On the plus side: Chris Penn can really sing! Hot damn!
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An under rated movie well worth a look.
avvd3 January 2001
I think this is a very good film with a lot of values. It's another gangster movie, but one with a story I've never seen before and really enjoyed. Walken and Penn are terrific, and Del Toro shows his screen potential. See it, but not with your mother. You will definitely stay awake.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

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

Recently Viewed