A Bronx Tale is the directorial
debut of everybody’s favourite tough-guy thespian, Robert DeNiro. Given
DeNiro’s penchant for oftentimes playing gangsters and hoods, it is perhaps
unsurprising that this film features both of these types as central
characters. To call A Bronx Tale a gangster movie would be fairly inaccurate,
however. Despite the prevalence of a few “goodfellas” as main characters, this
is actually quite a touching story of a young boy coming of age and his bonds
with his family and the people around him.
Calogero Anello lives in The
Bronx area (duh) of New York city, with his bus-driving father Lorenzo (DeNiro)
and mother Rosina. He loves the Yankees and hanging out with his friends, and
idolises local gangster Sonny, who rules the area and commands the fear and
respect of the locals.
When the nine-year-old Calogero
witnesses Sonny shooting a man over what is ostensibly a fight for a parking
space, the gangster shows a new interest in the boy. The youngster
deliberately fails to identify Sonny in a police line-up, and thus begins a
student/mentor relationship between the two, with Sonny taking the
impressionable youngster under his wing.
From this point on, a conflict
exists between Sonny and Lorenzo, Calogero’s father, with Lorenzo trying to
teach the boy the traditional values of working hard and doing the right
thing, and Sonny demonstrating that “the working man is a sucker” and that
bending or indeed breaking the rules can have a multitude of advantages.
Calogero or “C” as Sonny renames him, is caught between the conflicting
examples set by these two father figures, and must make up his own mind as to
which path is the right one to take.
This struggle is set against the
backdrop of a changing New York, particularly with the introduction of
African-americans to the area, and the local Italians’ resentment of them
which culminates in what is almost an out-and-out racial war. Meanwhile
Calogero has found himself enamoured with a young black girl, while his
buddies constantly bitch and moan about the hated “niggers”. Again it’s up to
“C” to decide which path to take, and whether to forsake mateship for the high
moral ground, or vice versa.
Overall A Bronx Tale is an
enjoyable film which examines the issues of family bonds and morality against
a background of sixties New York, and is a commendable effort by first-time
director Robert DeNiro.
quality is quite good, although in darker scenes it was quite difficult to
make out what was going on at times. Overall however, the picture is fairly
sharp and not too dusty, and definitely quite watchable.
Audio is great, particularly the
excellent soundtrack consisting of late-fifties/early-sixties doowop, jazz,
and a little bit of Hendrix and Sinatra thrown in. The music reflects the
tastes of the different groups within the film, and is obviously very well
thought out and fits perfectly.
The collection of extras is a
bit threadbare, the most noteworthy of the bunch being a very short behind the
scenes featurette which has a few interesting interviews with cast members and
the director, but ultimately seems to be more or less a “made for television”
electronic press kit type of thing. Other than that there is a photo gallery,
cast filmography, and theatrical trailer, plus some previews for other films.
More would have been nice, but still what we get is no cause for complaints.
A Bronx Tale