Leaving the theatre after watching A Bronx Tale, it leaves quite the impression. The 1993 gangster classic was Robert De Niro’s directorial debut and it oozes Scorcese: the violence, the fascinating plot, and the signature denouement.
But take no credit away from De Niro who superbly tells the tale of Lorenzo, a humble bus driver in the Belmont neighbourhood of the Bronx, whose young son Calogero witnesses a murder committed by the local mob boss, Sonny LoSpecchio. Calogero’s choice not to identify the killer in a police line-up earns him the respect of local mobsters so much so that Sonny takes Calogero under his wing. Nicknaming him ‘C’, Sonny shows his gratitude by offering Lorenzo a job. The offer is declined and Calogero is warned by his father to stay away from a bar nearby which doubles as the gang’s clubhouse. Close to a decade later, Calogero has disregarded his father’s wishes and continues to see Sonny and the two grow close. But as for most gangster movies, there is a tragic twist at the end.
Seeing A Bronx Tale as a kid, there’s something soothing about the almost constant narration by some of the main protagonists. Their voices act reassuringly in the midst of the constant violence. Thus, whilst not being as shaken by the violence, we are able to focus on the main themes of the relationship between father and son as well as the struggle of the working man. The performances delivered by the cast are great all round, but special mention must go to Chazz Palminteri whose portrayal of Sonny skilfully combines aggression and compassion. On the whole, the film is a great watch particularly for those with film favourites including Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, and The Departed.