Carlito’s Way (1993)
Genre: Gangster, Crime, Drama
Cast: Al Pacino, Penelope Ann Miller, Sean Penn
Direction: Brian de Palma
Set in East Harlem in 1975, Carlito (Al Pacino) is a gangster who while serving 30 years of prison sentence gets released in 5 years using the legal exploitations by his lawyer and close friend David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn). After his release he commits himself to be clean and off from his past gangster life. Back home, he is all set to earn sufficient amount of money to retire peacefully and open a car rental shop with his friend in Bahamas. He also renews his relationship with Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), his former lover. But he soon realizes that his past never lets him do what he wished for and he is unwillingly dragged into criminal life where his fate lies.
Carlito's Way is one of the best works of both director Brian de Palma and actor Al Pacino. The main emphasis of the film is that one’s past activities determine his fate in future. It is depicted brilliantly in the form of the Rican gangster Carlito’s life. Al Pacino lifts the movie to a greater level with his as usual marvelous and unbeatable performance. Its like adding a diamond to the acting crown of Al Pacino. The elaborate speech by Carlito in courtroom about his reformation has quite a style. Talking about performance, it would be unfair if there is no mentioning about Sean Penn. He gave a leap out performance as a skinny, successful lawyer with a different hair style which became difficult to identify him at first. He also has some troubled alliances with his criminal clients and also addicted to drugs. Penelope Ann Miller as Carlito’s lover did her role well but I don't know why she looks kind of sad most of the time. Both Ann Miller and Sean Penn were nominated for Golden Globe Award. Viggo Mortensen and Luiz Guzman appear in a minor role but played their part well. Unlike most gangster crime movies with heavy action scenes, it is less action and more character centered. The climax scene at Grand Central Station is filmed beautifully and adds more tension to the audience. I guess it’s a favorite spot of de Palma! The same location appears in the climax of his another film The Untouchables. The romantic subplot is unnecessary, which makes the pace of the story dragged down then and there. But it is justified that Carlito wants to live with her lover for the rest of life.
Even though it received many praises, it is one of the underrated gangster genre movies and absolutely deserves more than what it has earned. Simple but well written script and, terrific acting make it a great experience watching the life of Carlito Brigante.
My rating: 8.7/10