This is simply a great mob movie. Based upon the best selling book, "Wiseguy", by Nicholas Pileggi, it traces the rise and fall of "gansta" wannabe turned government informant, Henry Hill. Skillfully directed by Martin Scorsese, this film with its all star cast, megawatt performances, and period music soundtrack packs quite a wallop to the senses. Named 1990's best film by the Los Angeles, New York, and National Society of Film Critics, it garnered six Academy Award nominations and earned Joe Pesci an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In the 1950s, a preteen Henry Hill (Christopher Serrone) began his career as a "gansta" wannabe on the mean streets of East New York, where a small Italian American community thrived. Working with Paul Cicero's (Paul Sorvino's) crew, he worked his way up, doing the penny ante, gofer stuff, until he began more heavy duty involvement. As a young man, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) took to his life in the underworld like a fish takes to water. He married a nice, jewish girl whom he turned into a shrewish girl, as he lived the life he wanted. His wife, Karen (Lorraine Bracco), also became entranced by the perks available to a mobster
Henry teamed up with Jimmy "The Gent" Conway (Robert DeNiro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). Together they stole, lied, cheated, and killed their way through life, until they got wacked or got caught. When Henry, against the express advice of Paul Cicero, got involved with Jimmy in the 1970s cocaine drug trade, it was the beginning of the end for him and Jimmy. The film skillfully chronicles the rise and fall of Henry Hill from wiseguy to goverment informant in the witness protection program..
It is amazing that the actor playing young Henry Hill, Christopher Serrone, resembles Ray Liotta so much, right down to the piercing hazel eyes. He gives a terrific performance as young Henry, expressing all the joie de vivre that young Henry had over being associated with mobsters. Ray Liotta, as the adult Henry Hill, gives an outstanding performance. The viewer senses his absolute love for the life that he lives. He clearly enjoys all the perks of a mobster, his only regret being that he could never be a "made" guy, because he was not fully Italian, as his mother was Sicilian but his father was Irish.
Robert DeNiro is wonderful as Jimmy Conway, low key yet powerful. Joe Pesci gives an over the top performance as the wild, volatile, and totally crazy Tommy DeVito, an out of control wiseguy who has no redeeming value as a human being. He is a guy who does not think twice about killing someone over something trivial. Paul Sorvino is excellent as the mob boss who is all about the family and plays it the old fashioned way. Lorraine Bracco gives the performance of her life as Karen Hill, a woman besotted by the life of a mobster's wife, until she realizes that girlfriends are an expected part of that life. She is sensational.
This is simply a great mob movie. It is a film that the viewer will watch again and again. I, myself , have seen it at least three or four times, and each time is as if it were the first. Vastly entertaining, this film is a worthy addition to one's collection.