Goodfellas

First of all, I’d like to send a sincere apology to all of my followers for my abrupt hiatus from the blog. Summers are brief here in Canada, and I felt I must enjoy it while it lasts. This meant minimizing my movie watching and blog writing time. However, I’m now bracing myself as winter is coming, and I promise to post more regularly. Now onto the movies…

When movies are frequently mentioned as some of the greatest of all time, I often go into watching them with the assumption that I may be a bit disappointed. I mean, when something is hyped up to a god-like status, it’s difficult to avoid a little let down. However, for Goodfellas, I actually had higher than usual hopes, because it seems to appeal to everyone from cinephiles to fratboys. But I’m afraid to say the film didn’t connect with me the way I had imagined.

This poster is thought to be found in 76% of male college dorm rooms.

This poster is thought to be found in 76% of male college dorm rooms.

I do not mean to imply the film is bad. It isn’t. I will discuss its many strengths in a moment, but for me it has one fatal flaw I have to bring out immediately: I just didn’t care.

Goodfellas seems to make the assumption that I sympathize with Ray Liotta’s Henry. Sure he’s a smart-talkin’ up-and-comer with a dream, but he’s also a piece of shit. He kills, womanizes and engages in general deplorable douchebaggery. His charm wasn’t close to enough to get me on his side, I just wanted to see him get arrested or shot throughout the film’s entire 146 minutes. Maybe, it’s my fault. Maybe I wasn’t open enough to the characters or the writing, maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for the film, and maybe I need to watch the movie again, but really the only complaint I have about Goodfellas is that I couldn’t get invested in the film emotionally. Unfortunately, this was a deal breaker for me.

Cheer up man, I still have nice things to say.

All that being said, Goodfellas is still a masterfully made film in every other regard. Scorsese is a genius of a filmmaker, and despite my qualms, Goodfellas is a shining example of his prowess. Each scene is perfectly composed, making for a beautifully paced and structured narrative. A wonderful balance exists between comedy and drama, making the film breeze by rather briskly. It’s certainly not a boring film, and despite my problems with it, it’s still a fun watch.

And even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters, I can’t finish this review without mentioning the performances in this film. Liotta, De Niro, Pesci , and the rest of the cast are a total blast to watch. I certainly don’t blame the acting for causing my dissatisfaction with the characters. If anything, the talented cast kept me from hating the movie.

Pictured: Classic De Niro face.

Pictured: Classic De Niro face.

I absolutely recommend Goodfellas to anyone who hasn’t seen it. I was let down, but in all honesty the problem is probably more with me than the film itself. I know for a fact I’ll return to Goodfellas to give Henry another shot. He may not have totally grabbed me the first time, but I sincerely hope he can grow on me.

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One thought on “Goodfellas

  1. This is one of my favourite films of all time, but I recall feeling disappointed on first viewing for similar reasons to the one you discuss. I don’t think that the film is actually about sympathising with Hill, nor does it really want us to. Hill is a loser, everyone around him is as well…the film does a fantastic job of creating this exciting, romantic atmosphere around the gangsters (the first hour is so much fun to watch, plot-be-damned!) but then carefully and incisively deconstructs this in the last half. I sure don’t sympathise with Hill, but I don’t think Scorsese does either, if the final shot is anything to go by.

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