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A Bronx Tale Reviews

Actor Robert De Niro's directing debut is a nostalgic memoir of growing up in New York in the 1960s, and covers much of the same ground as Martin Scorsese's GOODFELLAS. Developed from a one-man show written by and starring Chazz Palminteri, A BRONX TALE is at its best in the details: the swaggering hoods and the local girls with sky-high hair, skinny heels, and tight dresses; the cars and social clubs; the suave jukebox crooners...it's all evoked with a reverent clarity and precision that open a window onto one man's memories of the past, as it was and as he'd like it to have been. Nine-year-old Calogero (Francis Capra) hangs out on his stoop with his friends, watching Sonny (Palminteri) and his henchmen make deals and issue orders. Calogero sees Sonny kill a man but, true to the code of the neighborhood--practiced even by Calogero's hardworking, law-abiding father Lorenzo (De Niro)--he tells the police he saw nothing, and Sonny goes free. Thus begins a relationship that becomes increasingly close as the boy grows older. Despite his father's objections, the teenage Calogero (Lillo Brancato)--or C, as he now prefers to be called--becomes first Sonny's mascot, then his errand boy, as Sonny and Lorenzo battle for C's love and respect. A BRONX TALE tries to cover too much ground; racial conflict, family drama, first love, the lure of the gangster life, and the joys and tribulation of coming of age in a kinder, gentler New York are all crammed into the slight story. It all feels too familiar to sustain the viewer's interest, but Palminteri's and De Niro's equally compelling performances help give it life.