Director: Robert De Niro
Stars: Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, Lillo Brancato, Francis Capra, Taral Hicks
Robert De Niro clearly learned a thing or two from his frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese. With his directorial debut, A Bronx Tale, De Niro brought intelligence, grit, and a no-holds-barred emotional undercurrent to the coming-of-age genre.
As seen through the eyes of young Italian American teenage Calogero (Lillo Brancato Jr.), A Bronx Tale is the ultimate depiction of what it takes to become a man. In one corner of Calogero's complicated life is his father, Lorenzo (De Niro), a hard-working, blue collar bus driver who is determined to keep his only son away from the mob. In the other corner there's local gangster king Sonny (Chazz Palminteri, who also wrote the script), a charming but dangerous man who's taken in the trustworthy Calogero like the son he never had. Making life even harder for Calogero is the fact that he's living in late-1960s NYC, where racial tensions are simmering. This complicates Calogero's budding romance with a black classmate (Taral Hicks).
The resolutions to Calogero's many dilemmas aren't pretty, nor are they in any ways cheats. Palminteri's screenplay stays true to the environment in which its set, with death, disappointments, and broken hearts happening without fail. Yet A Bronx Tale is ultimately an uplifting experience, due to the lessons the viewer can take away from Calogero's arduous journey from adult-minded boy to battle-scarred man. —MB