The life of Henry Hill and how he got into being part of the mob from a teenager dropping out of school, to his marriage to Karen and the relationship with his partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito after working with Paul Cicero.
This was my first ever viewing of this utterly outstanding film and I can only apologise that it has taken me until 2019 to eventually watch it, especially as I am pretty sure I have had a copy of it on DVD for at least ten whole years. But I am happy to say that I thought everything about the film was outstanding and while I am very late to the party at least I have made it eventually!
Martin Scorsese and his incredible style is apparent from start to finish, bringing out the best performances from his cast. I had always thought that De Niro was the leading role in the film but that was not to be the case and that firmly rested on Ray Liotta who I was very surprisingly impressed with something I was not expecting at all, always nice to then find an unexpected performance like that.
Henry Hill wanted nothing more than to be part of the mob and did everything possible to ensure he would get in with Paulie. Doing all the smaller jobs and learning the trade, realising early on that he must never rat on anyone and always keep his mouth shut. That would see him in good company, if you can call it good company but he looked after himself. He was pretty clever in that sense even if he did drop out of school, as he states though he was already making more money than a lot of men in the neighbourhood. His parents were less impressed with his idea for his life.
The story spans many years from 1955 to 1980 and gets into great detail about his life as a mob associate, he could never truly be part of the mob though. His first friend was another juvenile delinquent Tommy DeVito and they would go on to play a huge role in each other’s lives, especially as they work for Jimmy just as a mover/moving man. Henry then works his way up to more serious crimes as well as starting to date Karen Friedman. Who he goes on to marry even though she was not too impressed with his criminal activity it turns out she enjoyed the lifestyle.
I must admit though I wasn’t expecting so many of the events which happen in the film which included the prison sentence and then turning to drugs and smuggling. But everything about it was incredible to watch unfold, with epic performances especially from Joe Pesci who truly did deserve his best supporting actor Oscar, although I feel the film should have received more than just that one!
Something else I found a little bit strange was actually feeling sorry for criminals. That is something it managed to do in a rather impressive manner, you constantly felt sorry for Henry even though his choices were not good at all. Especially when he was a teenager, but you keep those feelings as he grows up thinking that he didn’t really no any different or any better. He was corrupted into thinking it was a great life, which I guess he got away with for many years. The drug use and abuse was always going to contribute to his downfall, becoming very paranoid. Another thing that must be mentioned is Karen his wife who did standby him through a lot of it including his cheating, played very well by Lorraine Bracco.
I can fully understand why this is near the top in greatest film of all time lists, it really does have an incredible charm and swagger. The soundtrack was perfect and fit in amazingly well within the scenes, Beyond the Sea being a particular highlight.
Ray Liotta was outstanding and probably doesn’t get enough credit for his performance in this film. As acting alongside Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in fine form was always going to be a tough ask. I will certainly be watching this film again in the near future.