Oliver Jessen’s review published on Letterboxd:
I had some minor issues with the film that can sort of be overlooked in the long run. The amount of times the camera would zoom in or out on certain objects or people was unbelievable and got kind of repetitive and felt lazy. Also, is it just me or were the scenes with Older De Niro a bit bland in comparison to his younger self scenes, and I know it’s a reflection period, but they didn’t need to spend that much time on him until the end so they could’ve kept those slow scenes shorter which would’ve maintained the pace better.
A larger issue, however, is the fact that the film romanticizes rape; after De Niro rapes Deborah, Ennio Morricone’s music swoons in a beautiful triumph, which felt so off and misused, I did not like that scene at all.
But DAMN if this isn’t amazing cinema! Almost 4 hours long but it’s completely worth it. God, I loved the vibe and atmosphere of this film. The screenplay is fantastic and the score is mesmerizing, probably my favorite aspect of the film. The pacing is great and I didn’t notice until the “Intermission” segment that I’d already watched a majority of the film. Despite being made in the 80s, the film has some really fun and seamless transitions which elevated the film’s technical levels.
The film had some gorgeous set pieces matched with some of my favorite shots in film history. New York City felt so immersive, especially in Noodles’ childhood scenes, and it really places the audience between the actions of the characters.
James Woods is such an incredible actor. I loved him in Videodrome and I loved him here too; he absolutely steals the show, and De Niro is great as always.