Once Upon a Time in America Reviews
Long, flawed, but brilliant gangster saga detailing Jewish gangster returning to his youth to confront the regrets of his old life. No film has ever captured the complete isolated side of one man and his inner feelings of his friends. Staggering Art-direction, powerhouse performances by De Niro and Woods; several brutally unforgettable scenes. Liabilities: draggy stretches, somewhat perplexing moments, main characters whose motives remain cold throughout the entire film. Even still, Leone, his trusted photographer Tonino Delli Colli, and score composer Ennio Morricone have created an grand film with impeccable vision and two stunning performances. Unlike any other movie ever made; a triumph.
Whenever people mention gangster movies they without thinking, undoubtedly brawl out Goodfellas and The Godfather Part 1 & 2, for obvious reasons of course, all 3 are fantastic films and all 3 are very popular, but that doesnt mean Once Upon a Time in America is less good, it's just more underrated, and as i said it's ironically the very best of the sub-genre. Yes, better than the big dogs.
Comparing the 3 (which is close to impossible) Goodfellas is a much more stylized, hollywoodization of a mob's story, and The Godfather Part 1 is so different, it's hard to compare, i personally think it's a better film.
Once Upon a Time in America is much more real, dark, gritty, emotionally driven movie, it paints a perfect picture of what gangsters were like in the '30's and how New York was like for over five decades. It's much more intriguing and complex than Goodfellas and The Godfather, and Once Upon a Time in America is what i wanted from The Godfather Part 2 and never got.
To stop with the comparing, Once Upon a Time in America is a 4 hour gangster epic, and you might think ''well, 4 hours that's way to long for any movie'' for this movie, it isnt. It needs all 4 hours, and you can clearly see that because each and every single scene has a purpose and meaning, there isnt one scene where you think that a scene could've been scrapped.
Because each scene has purpose, and the time line switches continuously you need to be active as a viewer, which is what a 4 hour movie needs. The 4 hours fly by like its a 2 hour movie. It captures accurately growing up in the 30s,40s, & 50s of America. The roots of what made this country unique verses other nations. Diversity here was astronomical then transformed many ethnic backgrounds into pivotal characters impacted this country as well.
As I said, each scene is 100% needed, because when this movie was released in 1984, the theaters thought the movie was way to long and cut it down from its original and intentional length of a whopping 229 minutes to a 144 minutes version, and it became an incoherent mess of a movie, which is the sole reason this movie didnt get nominated for any Oscars, which is a shame.
Nevertheless, Once Upon a Time in America could have Won 11 Oscars, i'm not exaggerating.
It could have won for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for De Niro, Woods and McGovern, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Art- and Set Decoration, Best Cinematography and Best Original Score from Ennio Morricone.
Once Upon a Time in America is the best gangster movie ever made, and the best coming of age story ever put to film.