A Bronx Tale Review
"A Bronx Tale", TriBeCa Productions, 1993
As well-intentioned as this film is with the fragility of the topics that it explores, De Niro's lack of nuance as a director that I think warrants the story being told undercuts any room for emotional connection with me.
It is clear that De Niro is inspired by the renowned works of what he has been a part of in the past, most prominently his involvement with Martin Scorsese. This is not only evident by the genre he has chosen to explore, but in his treatment towards character. One could very easily draw comparisons of character development between Palinteri's C and Liotta's Hill. However, It is unfair to ignore De Niro's exclusive artistic merits, and I think that he occasionally utilizes Scorsese's traits in order to enhance the line of identification the audience shares with both C and the streets of Brooklyn itself. I think the way in which the Bronx is captured with unhinged camera movement is effectively abrasive when it needs to be. I like the more naturalistic use of lighting that fills the mise en scene rather than the more stylised and slightly sickenly-synthetic feel that Scorsese implements. I also enjoy the attention to detail with the soundtrack and its subtle implementation, often detailing a story of love from afar in its lyrics, perhaps reflecting the sense of distance De Niro himself feels away from his younger life that this film is in ode to.
However, this is about the extent of what I enjoy. The story is told along the themes of integrity and trust that is pitched between De Niro's Lorenzo and Palinteri's Sonny and the windows of fatherhood they bring to C's life. In theory this is the perfect platform for a poignant and emotionally-engaging character portrait of an individual torn between the social boundaries that have shaped his identity. In my opinion, De Niro fails to capture this - the lack of subtlety in not only the pacing of the story and the characters' intentions but also in performance highlights Di Niro's absence of experience as a director. The power of simplicity in the writing is not recognised at all, as the delivery of some of these lines actually feels like it comes from a place of pretend rather than reality, which the Scorsese-inspired low-key lighting constantly reminds us. The way in which characters try to enhance a particular feeling, often of uncomforted, is delivered with no directoral reign over how pronounced the style of performances can become, seen especially with the extras. Relationships that are presented and explored feel synthetic and thin due to a similar lack of appreciation when it comes to body language and how dialogue is handled. This amounts to characters that I often feel no tangible connection to, despite the efforts of how a particular ideology may try to make the audience contemplate.
Overall this is an unrewarding experience. Whilst I can see the creative potential, the mundane sense of flow accompanied by unrefined the characters and tangents in the story that loop back around makes this a film I cannot recommend.