Directed by Martin Scorcese, Goodfellas is based on the true story of Henry Hill, (played by Ray Liotta) who grows up in Brooklyn and becomes enthralled with the mobster lifestyle during his teens, and sinks deeper and deeper into a career of crime throughout his life. Henry drops out of high school and starts working for Jimmy Conway (Robert DeNiro) who is a ruthless mobster. Henry also meets the short fused Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) that shares his mob aspirations.
As Henry enters his twenties he is no longer running small errands for his mob bosses, but now high-jacking tractor trailers for Jimmy and making a lot of money in the process. He meets Karen (Lorraine Bracco) who is a straight-edged Jewish girl who is uncomfortable with Henry’s mob connections. Henry and Karen eventually marry and Karen begins to accept the risk involved and revel in the excess they can afford.
As robberies turn into drug trafficking and body disposal, Henry’s life becomes a mess as he has multiple affairs and serves a 4 year prison sentence. Henry also must deal with Tommy’s unpredictable temper, like when he beats a man’s brains out after he insulted his former job as a shoe shine boy. As the walls are closing in on Henry, Jimmy convinces him to participate in a multi-milliondollar heist. As cocaine and paranoia begin to rule Henry’s life, he must decide for himself how to escape the mobster life to prevent his eminent demise.
While Ray Liotta turns in a solid performance, Joe Pesci steals every scene with his explosive and riotous tirades. While not for the faint of heart, Pesci is intense, hilarious, and downright disturbing at times. Lorraine Bracco is also outstanding in her portrayal of Karen which mirrors Henry’s slide into destruction. Goodfellas is no doubt polarizing in its indulgent violence and overwhelming amount of four letter words, but it is undeniably an enchanting story highlighted by brilliant acting.
The survey says…5 stars out of 5