A Bronx Tale (1993) / Drama-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for language and violence
Running Time: 121 min.
Cast: Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, Lillo Brancato, Francis Capra, Taral Hicks, Joe Pesci
Director: Robert De Niro
Screenplay: Chazz Palminteri
Review published January 23, 1999
A Bronx Tale starts off with a young boy witnessing a shooting in his Bronx neighborhood, but doesn't finger the gangster that committed the murder. The gangster (Palminteri, Analyze This) practically adopts the boy as his own, much to the dismay of the boy's father (De Niro, Mad Dog and Glory), who wants to protect his boy from the evils of a criminal life. Growing up under the influence of both very different men, the boy tries to deal with many conflicts about staying out of trouble, interracial dating, and the difficult existence in 60s Bronx life.
While De Niro does an adequate job in his first and only directorial stint, it is Palminteri's semi-autobiographical story (based on his play) that impresses the most. A Bronx Tale is a bittersweet tale of trying to do what's right, even when what's right is uncertain in a neighborhood that respects the gangsters and their lifestyles. De Niro and Palminteri deliver the performances you'd expect (i.e. good), while newcomers Brancato and Capra as the boy are real finds. De Niro as director does fall into the trap of using nostalgic music for no apparent reason, and while the film is mostly effective, some scenes become awkward and amateurish in execution. Still, there are so many fine qualities to the film, this is one tale well worth watching.
©1999 Vince Leo