The Funeral (1996)
Set in the Bronx during the Great Depression, this convoluted crime drama centers upon the complex and tempestuous relationships between a trio of disparate Italian-American brothers and the familial tradition of crime that nearly destroys them. When Johnny is fatally shot, his brothers Ray and Chez seek revenge.
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Critic Reviews for The Funeral
Though directed in different style, thematically, this period movie is a companion piece to King of New York and The Bad Lieutenant, forming an urban crime trilogy and representing Ferrara's best work.
A brilliant, very visceral piece of film-making with an infectious strain of morbid humour.
[Ferrara] still finds sharp new ways to explore the nuances of a trite-sounding story.
You're engaged on a moral level rarely found in movies about violence.
Now here is a gangster movie that does not want setups or payoffs like traditional gangster movies.
Film after film, Ferrara and St. John are finding new ways to scream.
A psychologically strung-out tale stuffed full of ideas and inspired moments.
The corpse, the corpse, the corpse!
One of Ferrara's more bearable fims. Solid performances.
With a cast like that, one would expect fireworks on the screen. Unfortunately, this never happens.
A strong portrait of gangsters from Abel Ferrara, one of cinemas best provocateurs.
Some viewers may enjoy watching the lifestyles of the grim and depraved; others will find that sitting through "The Funeral" is like going to celluloid hell.
We have seen Martin Scorsese's gangster films, and Abel Ferrara, you are no Martin Scorsese.
Audience Reviews for The Funeral
Ray: If I do something wrong, it's because God didn't give me the grace to do what's right. If this world stinks, it's his fault. I'm only working with what I've been given.†
"One family, one murder, too many lies."
What makes The Funeral a better than average gangster film is solid performances from underrated actors like Chris Penn and Vincent Gallo, and strong performances from its bigger names, Christopher Walken and Benicio Del Toro. The Funeral winds up being a really well made and acted film, even if it didn't become a great movie. The story isn't anything we haven't seen before, but the superb acting makes it feel like you are watching this storyline for the first time.
What The Funeral does do well is make its case for more of a family drama then a true gangster film. Although it's still a gangster film, as it gets going it relies more and more on the family drama and less and less on he actual ins and outs of the business. It's actually a pretty slow moving drama for most of the runtime and then within the last 10 minutes, the plot goes crazy and leaves the viewer with a weird feeling. I can't say I was at all surprised by the ending, but watching happen that quickly was a surprise. The ending turns out to be cool because director Abel Ferrera didn't feel the need to add melodrama or draw it out, but it also feels rushed for this same reason.
Either way I thoroughly enjoyed The Funeral despite its structural problems. There wasn't a bad performance from the cast and that ends up being enough to win me over on this one.†
The youngest brother of a trio of gangsters is shot dead and as they gather to mourn his death they relive his final days as they try to find the killer. In common with a lot of Ferrara's films, The Funeral is a very bleak affair, full of unsympathetic characters which makes it a little hard going to watch. Rather like TV series The Sopranos (in fact a couple of the regular cast appear in supporting roles here) it is more a domestic drama set in the world of organized crime rather than a gangster film. The cast is to die for, with Christopher Walken, Benicio Del Toro, Isabella Rosselini, Chris Penn and Vincent Gallo and they all put in solid performances; unfortunately it is very difficult to relate to any of the characters and the unrelenting nihilism combined with the fact that the film ends rather abruptly makes it difficult to feel any emotional involvement. It's still a solidly made and acted film but really only essential viewing for completist fans of the genre and actors involved.More
They're gangsters who don't believe in God or religion, but they think you'll go to hell for nihilism. They're interesting when they talk about it. Walken and Penn are great, as are Sciora and Rosselini as they're wives and better angels. Gretchen Moll's presence is extraneous, She's a beautiful WASP fiance who's in none of the flashbacks when Gallo's character is alive. She's there to cry a couple of times, and look around in alienated wonder at the family's traditions, like like Kay Adams in The Godfather. Maybe she's there to balance out our impression of Gallo's sexual vices. We see his vices fight with his spiritual ideals, as he tries to find a new religion, in socialism. Gallo's performance is good but his role is underwritten and not in a way that gives him charm and mystery, if he's supposed to be the young conscience of this clan. The movie could have been a half hour longer to make the world and the way its people relate more believable and less like bubbles of narrative popping before our eyes. The ending doesn't ascend high enough before it explodes on the ground. Based on the limitedness of the period sets, which do look good for what they are, it could have been a money thing.More
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