Not Scorsese’s only foray into the gangster genre, but undeniably his most beloved, Goodfellas is a powerhouse of a film. In the years between Mean Streets and this, his talents behind the camera have been refined, and his eye for creative shots and effective story telling techniques are on full show. Not only that, but the cast of Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro and Lorraine Bracco all turn in fantastic performances, ensuring that the 145 minute running time is 145 minutes of non-stop compelling storytelling.
The film details the rise of Henry Hill (Liotta) from a boy with big dreams in Brooklyn to a well regarded wise guy in the New York mafia world. Along for the ride are his buddy Tommy (Pesci in perhaps his greatest performance) and their slightly older friend Jimmy (De Niro). Although, perhaps even more interesting than his “job” is Hill’s relationship with his wife Karen (Bracco). It’s not a particularly original concept in film to show a character rise to power and ultimately succumb to the lavishness of the lifestyle it affords, but showing the devastating effects that the crime business can have on a family imbues Scorsese and Nicholas Peleggi’s script with a lot of heart it may otherwise have lacked.
There are many reasons that this film remains one of the greats of the genre, from the costumes to the cinematography and the soundtrack, but mostly Goodfellas just emphasises that Scorsese knows how to use the medium of film to tell a great story.
The Podfather Score: 9/10