|Gangs of New York|
First of all, the film looks absolutely fantastic, with startlingly believable production design that gives us a remarkable insight into this period in America's history--with the Civil War raging, racial tension at its peak and dissatisfaction with government on all levels. The city was a tinderbox waiting to explode, which is pretty much what happened in the horrific 1863 Civil War Draft Riots that give the film it's jaw-dropping climax. Scorsese films this with his usual sure touch, catching both large and small details and bringing both the characters and the city to life. The script is a bit more problematic; the personal stories are very strong, but the bigger picture is somewhat lost. These issues are very much at the top of the agenda today, and yet a meaningful connection is never made that this is essentially where we are all over again! Still, the narrative is crisp and the characters extremely layered, giving the cast a lot to work with. DiCaprio's meaty and edgy performance holds the story together perfectly; we've never seen him in anything so full-bodied, and he handles it very well indeed. As does Day-Lewis, in an even more complex role as the charming, conflicted and ultimately honorable villain. There's not a weak link among the actors, and everything works together beautifully to grab us and thoroughly jar us on several levels. It's a great story, and if it had been made just a bit more relevant, the film would have been a masterpiece.
dir Martin Scorsese|
scr Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan
with Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Henry Thomas, Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Lewis, John C Reilly, Liam Neeson, David Hemmings, Cara Seymour, Roger Ashton-Griffiths
release US 20.Dec.02; UK 10.Jan.03
On the streets. Bill Cutter leads his posse into battle (DiCaprio and Day-Lewis are 2nd and 3rd from left)...
"If someone invites you to this repetitive, agonizingly long bore, get a stunt double to go in your stead. You will be missing such snappy dialogue as, 'I don't give a f**k for your moral conundrums you meathead sack of s**t.'" --Richard Cavell, New York City 10.Dec.02
"I don't have to tell anyone by now who is in this or what it is about - but I will say that I liked it. It is well done, and definitely worth seeing - but see it on the big screen." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 21.Jan.03
"An intense, powerful film. Day-Lewis was an amazing presence. No matter how despicable his character, I was drawn to him at all times, and utterly believed he was Bill The Butcher. Not so with Leo. I felt like he was this kid trying to be an actor, trying to 'become' his character, Amsterdam; sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but fooling a lot of the people most of the time. And then I realized that he was brilliantly cast in Catch Me If You Can, because that was exactly what his character was in that film. I think Leo has the potential to be a fine actor, I think we catch glimpses of it, but I don't think he's there yet. And I wish Scorsese had cast someone else in that role. The film would've been much more believeable for me had he done so." --IndigoJen, Los Angeles 27.Jan.03
"*** Scorsese's long and violent look at early New York as The Irish take on the locals. A weak plot and casting DiCaprio and Diaz to widen box office appeal let down the film. A Scorsese film is always worth seeing but this isn't one of his best. Stick to Italians!" --Gawain McLachlan Filmnet, Melbourne 14.Mar.03