The Godfather: Part II

The Godfather: Part II ★★★★½

Just to mention one of the amazing things that this film is doing: flashbacks.

The intertwining of Vito's and Michael's lives, of the beginnings of the Corleone empire and its painful peak, is never tacky.
The fundamental similarities between the father's and the son's practices mix with their tragic differences, yet this complex relationship is completely coherent.
The flashbacks make it seem as though Michael is always remembering, constantly thinking about his father, wondering "what would Vito do? What would he say?".
Yet Michael is not Vito, and as much as Vito considered trust as the best currency and saw favours as the best instrument to get things done, Michael ends up relying mostly on betrayal and murder. Worse yet, he is aware of this drastic change, but does not see any other way to do business.
Flashbacks here bring another level of meaning to every scene: Michael's, as he struggles to decide whether his father's methods are worth preserving, and Vito's, as his choices and experience explain so much of Michael's own.
The final flashback is the apotheosis of this parallel, breaking your heart into a thousand pieces.

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