DONNIE BRASCO (1997) 

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Johnny Depp
Al Pacino
Michael Madsen
Bruno Kirby
James Russo
Anne Heche
Gerry Becker
Robert Miano
Brian Tarantina
Zach Grenier
Gretchen Mol

Mike Newell



Time: 115 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Drama/Crime/Mafia

Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Before I saw DONNIE BRASCO, my attitude towards films about the mob was "if I ever see anothor one again in my life it will be too soon." I'm glad I was talked into watching this one. It's a powerful tale about the intimate relationship and ultimate betrayal between Depp and Pacino's characters. They just happened to be in the mob. Apparently, this was adapted from the true story of an FBI agent who went deep undercover in the 70's and became an accepted member of a New York crime family, forsaking his own life for the power and acceptance of the underworld. Donnie, played by Depp, is befriended and sponsored by Lefty (Pacino) a lower member of the mafia faction run by Sonny Black (Madsen). Donnie's job is to pretend to join the family in order to collect evidence against them. Since Donnie has no "family" in the city, Lefty takes him under his wing, showing him the ropes of working for Sonny. It's Lefty's dream to be in charge of his own faction, but he can never seem to get it together. Though he's not supposed to get emotionally involved, Donnie starts to help and protect Lefty in his bid for power. The more time he spends within the "family" the more Donnie loses touch with his real one (wife and daughters), as well as the life he once led.

Lefty and Sonny become the people who are important to him and he eventually disappers into the fold, becoming an active participant in their criminal activities. When Lefty is looked over again and Sonny becomes a full-fledged boss, dissent starts to poison the group. The FBI has what they need and wants Donnie to come out, but he refuses. Sonny believes there's a mole in the group and if he suddenly leaves, Lefty will be punished. Lefty has truly become his best friend in the world and Donnie is the only person Lefty trusts. Needless to say, it doesn't end happily. DONNIE BRASCO is a story about true friendship, putting your life on the line for another. Depp gives an amazingly powerful performance as a man who becomes what he hates most and revels in the freedom it provides. Pacino is wonderful as always. He gives a subtler performance than many of his more recent roles. Lefty is a has-been from the day he was born. He wears his anger at life like a second skin. These are two of the industry's most amazing actors, able to create unique characters while still being a star. They make DONNIE BRASCO an intense and touching film, instead of the same old thing. If you want to see great acting and writing, DONNIE BRASCO is an intensely entertaining treat.

"When they send for you, you go in alive, you come out dead, and it's your best friend that does it."

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