Donnie Brasco (Extended Cut)

Donnie Brasco is a love story.

(Are you nuts? It’s about the Mob.)

Yes it is, but at it’s core,it’s a love story. The love that welded our puny species into the most successful hunters in history, and unfortunately made war an eternal curse. That love.

Al Pacinos’ Lefty is an aging, mostly overlooked gangster that hooks up with Johnny Depps’ young lion of the title, who in reality is an F.B.I. undercover agent, and teaches him the ropes, the customs, the culture. Brascos conflict becomes evident early as Lefty, given the mores of his environ, is a good and honorable man (who’s killed 26 people, more by films end). Leftys’ son is a useless drug addict and Donnie becomes the son he almost had. Their relationship is alternately abrasive and sweet and these two will play you like a vintage harp. Excellent, for these performances is a little thin. As the story unfolds and we see both the Government and the Mob in action, I was left with the feeling of not wanting to have anything to do with either, but seeing the Mob as perhaps the lesser of two evils.

Anne Heche, as Donnie’s real life wife and mother of his three daughters, is aces as well and her stock keeps going up with me, somewhat to my chagrin. Her puzzled anguish at her husband being gone for three months at a time is believable.

With a supporting cast the likes of Michael Madsen and Bruno Kirby, this film is as good as you expect.

This is not a particularly violent movie, with one huge exception that is just entirely too realistic, but the undercurrent is always there.

Special Features has an exclusive featurette, “Donnie Brasco (Joseph Pistone the real deal) Out of the Shadows” that is a good watch if only to confirm what you already suspected.

Maybe the best gangster film I’ve ever seen. Well directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).

Lee Crawford