Combining an electric, and eclectic, rock soundtrack and naturalistic dialogue, with performances influenced by the 1955 Oscar winner Marty, the film seamlessly blends personal experience with cinematic references. The latter is both to the Hollywood of the past and, in the scene in which Charlie and his girlfriend, Teresa (Amy Robinson), meet in a hotel room, the Godard of A bout de souffle.
Perhaps the most impressive element in an astonishingly vivid and compelling film is the performance of Robert De Niro as Johnny Boy, Charlie’s friend and Therese’s brother, a dangerously unstable wild card whose recklessness in dealing with the minor Mafia figures that also inhabit this hermetic world leads to the film’s explosive climax.
Presented in association with the Sydney Film Festival and National Film and Sound Archive
28 May - 9 Jun
Scorsese’s breakthrough feature - his third - contains strong autobiographical elements. Set in Manhattan’s Little Italy, it stars Harvey Keitel as Charlie, an Italian-American conflicted between loyalty to the mob, his family, his friends and the Church. The first shot we see after the ‘home movie’ credit sequence has Charlie shaking hands with his parish priest, a reminder that Scorsese had seriously considered entering the priesthood before becoming a filmmaker.