There have been many criticisms of this movie: that it favors style over substance, that it has too many conflicting storylines, that it slides all over the place without any real character development. I don't disagree. But, that being said, I still like this movie an awful lot. It is packed with talent from end to end, not just the proclaimed stars of the picture, but other little surprises that turn up from time to time. Look for Tom Waits in a bit part that takes place within the Cotton Club, Laurence Fishburne (credited as Larry) as a stylish and dangerous member of black organized crime, and Jennifer Grey as Nicholas Cage's perpetually dim and semi-clad young wife. Diane Lane is as lovely as can be, and really seems to convey the singleminded amorality of her teenaged character, determined to get some security for herself, and the conflict created when she is forced to confront the growing madness of her keeper, mobster Dutch Schultz, and her love for Gere's character of Dixie Dwyer. The music and dance numbers are as good as you've heard, and the sets and costumes beautiful and believable. I think that one problem with this movie may have been the era in which it was released, when a 2-hour movie was still considered extraordinarily long. It does have the jerky, confusing feel of a movie that's been too heavily cut. Perhaps if it had been made today, audiences would be willing to sit through three hours of the intricate plot development that so complex a story really needs. Let's hope a director's cut is released someday.
All in all, this is worth a look, or several, despite its rather considerable flaws.