Main      Site Guide    
At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Goodfellas (1990)



Reviews and Comments

Interesting, how Goodfellas covers a lot of the same territory as The Godfather in similar depth and yet could scarcely be more different. Goodfellas tells the story of a boy who grows up across the street from some bigwigs in the mob. He admires their lifestyles, the fact that they command respect and take what they want. He wants to grow up like them, and so he does, first working for them as an errand boy and growing up as much under their tutelage as his own family's.

Based on a true story, the film chronicles the perverse lifestyle of gangsters as vividly as any film ever has. The world of the mob is nestled amongst us, yet has totally different rules that offer both great risk and great reward. If Goodfellas did nothing else, I would admire it for the way it makes familiar humanity seem natural and understandable in this foreign lifestyle. But it does a lot more than that, illustrating the strains it has on us, how its great rewards can turn to fear and isolation at the drop of a hat when violence is a part of business, and how this can drive one mad with paranoia. The final sequence of the film illustrates as well as any the transience of stolen comforts.

It's a harsh film, laden with violence and profanity and for that reason may not be entertaining to all. Honestly, it was too harsh for me to enjoy in the traditional sense; I don't think I'd choose to watch it again. But I do admire it.