Film , Thrillers
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(4 user reviews)
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Scorsese's fast, violent, stylish mobster movie is a return to form, De Niro, and the Italian-American underworld. But in following, from '55 to the late '70s, the true-life descent into big-time crime of Henry Hill (Liotta), he and co-writer Nick Pileggi seem less concerned with telling a lucid, linear story than with providing sociological evidence of an ethically (ethnically?) marginalised society united by the desire to make a fast buck. Because Hill and the older 'good fellas' he first falls in with as an awestruck kid - De Niro, Pesci, Sorvino - exist almost totally on the surface, we watch shocked and beguiled but never come to care. The camera and cutting style is as forcefully persuasive as a gun in the gut, so that we are not enlightened but excited by the cocky camaraderie, bloody murder, and expansive sense of 'family' on view. Still, the movie excites the senses in a way few film-makers even dream of, and its epic sweep and brilliantly energetic film language rest on a cluster of effortlessly expert performances.

Release details

Rated: 18
Duration: 145 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenwriter: Martin Scorsese, Nicholas Pileggi
Cast: Ray Liotta
Lorraine Bracco
Chuck Low
Robert De Niro
Gina Mastrogiacomo
Paul Sorvino
Samuel L Jackson
Frank Sivero
Joe Pesci
Frank Vincent

Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:1
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  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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Alexandra L

One of my unofficial new year’s resolutions for 2016 was to cross off some of the classic movies I have somehow managed to get to the ripe old age of ** without seeing and so it was that I ventured to the House of Vans cinema underneath Waterloo last week to get down with some very bad ‘Goodfellas’.

The first few moments of any film are pivotal; they set the tone for the next few hours of your life and dictate whether it’s going to fly by in the blink of an eye or drag like a late afternoon re-run of Crossroads. From the opening credits of this celluloid classic from 1990, I was in love. In love with the look, the sound, the actors, the story, the costumes…basically every single reel and frame of beautifully edited, gorgeously dressed and superbly dramatized storytelling.

Thanks to long time Scorsese collaborator & film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, the pace is quick and the script is tight which helps 150 minutes pass by without a hint of watch stalking. You will absolutely find yourself effortlessly drawn in as three decades play out in bloody, violent & epic yet often darkly humourous fashion. I spent the first half of the film yearning to be a part of this twisted and deranged rendition of family and the second half with my hands over my eyes as everything descended into an uneasy & unpredictable maelstrom of misguided chaos.

The thing is, you can’t help but care. When Ray Liotta’s teenage dreamer is smacked around by his dad for daring to dream his way out of small town living, you care. When career defining Joe Pesci eats dinner with his mother while casually pocketing a butcher’s knife with which to re-introduce himself to a sworn enemy later, you care. When Paul Sorvino is betrayed by those he holds closest and closes his sad liquid eyes in pain, you care. And Bob? Bob de Niro? Every time I see a film like this, it goes some way to erasing the despondency I feel when looking at his recent CV but it doesn’t make me any more forgiving that someone this talented should choose to squander it so woefully. His performance seduces you instantly – at his best, he is charming and you want to be his friend. At his worst, he is loyal to no-one, malevolent and unforgiving. He is by turn mesmerising and terrifying.

In a high five to strong female characters – albeit sadly abused and intoxicated for much of the film - I also wanted to be Lorraine Bracco’s gorgeous & fierce Karen Hill, a woman who gave the movie heart in every scene she was in.

It seems odd to review a film that turns 26 years old this year but that’s the beauty of cinema; the bad films can be forgotten and the good films? Well they last forever, marking out and defining the moments that we want to remember and that we can’t forget. I know this is a film I will return to time and again, and each time I do, I’ll be sat under those arches at Waterloo, feeling the rumble of trains overhead and hearing the swagger of New York spring blood-spattered, spitting and swaggering off the screen. 


Great gangster movie, almost in the same class as The Godfather. Great acting from everyone, Joe Pesci perhaps doing the most stand out performance.