Goodfellas tells the true story of Henry Hill as he enters and finds his place in the mafia. This Martin Scorsese classic (and once-upon-a-time holder of the most f-bombs in cinema history record) created new narrative and film techniques that added a refreshing take on the gangster/mob genre
I think the most impressive thing about this story is that it’s true. It’s pretty incredible. I also hate narration. Like normally it drives me nuts, but the use of narration in this film is engaging and actually enhances how the story is told. It switches perspectives from Henry to his wife Karen, which is an interesting decision because so often in mob films the wife’s perspective in the business is so often overlooked and marginalized. I liked the switch. It was refreshing.
The editing in this film is definitely weird, but still visually compelling and interesting. Taking time to pause transitions and using sweeping long form shots (like the infamous club scene) is an innovative choice. It’s very interesting, but then again Scorsese is a master director, so that’s redundant at this point.
Considering Ray Liotta has played a variant on his Henry Hill character in practically every film he’s done since, it’s obvious he knocks this performance out of the park. I wanted a little more DeNiro, as I always do, but he plays a fantastic mob boss with gripping cruelty and endless charm, the necessary cocktail for a mob boss. And then there’s Joe Pesci. He’s insane in this movie in all the right ways. His character is borderline manic, and it’s incredibly fun to watch. He’s still likable, which makes his story arc a lot more poignant. All of the characters are intensely likable, all the while doing horrible things. That’s what makes a good mob movie, making the audience care about people who do terrible things by making them fully realized and engaging characters. This film whole-heartedly succeeds in this endeavor.
This film is a genre classic. It’s always been regarded as one, and it certainly deserves it. It took its sweet time to get to Netflix, but now that it’s here it’s a must watch for any movie fan.
Amy’s Recommendation: 10/ 10