The much-lauded director of Westerns, Sergio Leone, gives us an epic saga of gangland America. Charting the lives of New York mobsters Noodles (Robert De Niro) and Max (James Woods) over four decades, the narrative is compelling and De Niro's controlled performance makes this a classic. [04 Jan 2019]
I have seen many movies, good and bad. One thing for certain, Once Upon a Time in America is more than good. It is amazing, a true milestone in the crime drama genre. The cinematography, images, scenery and locations are all superb and quite sweeping, while Ennio Morricone's score ranks up there with his very best. While the film clocks in at nearly four hours long, it never feels boring to me while the pace is quite elegiac everything else just compels you. I will admit, this is another film you need to see more than once to understand/appreciate it.
Sergio Leone's direction is also superb, the story is always compelling and rich and the dialogue is very thought-provoking. The characters are wonderful if different. Unlike The Godfather(not a bad thing by the way), Once Upon a Time in America doesn't make you feel sympathy for its characters, these characters are actually quite nasty people but the way they are written and acted makes them compelling too. The two **** scenes are very shocking and perhaps brutal, but again that's no flaw in any way, because this slant on crime and the like is quite realistic if you put it in perspective.
The acting is another strong asset. Robert DeNiro and James Woods, both are great actors, and both give brilliant performances. So overall, extraordinary, not only of its genre but of film full-stop. 10/10 Bethany Cox
Watching the film takes some patience. You have moments where there's 10 seconds or more of silence in between dialogue. When it gets violent, it's not the psychotic glee we're used to from Quentin Tarentino and his acolytes, it's simply the way things were in that life, unvarnished and brutally honest.
This would-be epic schlep, dragging almost 50 years of chronology over a sluggish 140 minutes, is far too slight of text and ponderous of presentation to sustain more than nodding-off dramatic interest. [U.S. theatrical release]
I have not been able to see such an atmosphere of the early 20s of the twentieth century in any film. You can moralize for hours about how you can admire a film where they kill, betray, and engage in frankly bad deeds. It is possible - precisely with the picture, the skill, the subtle acting of the actors ... in a word, the talent of the director Sergio Leone, who nurtured the idea of the film for about 14 years.
A haunting and engulfing masterpiece of cinema, with enough beauty and craftwork to become an enduring classic for years to come. Incredible direction, incredible performances, and an incredible score.
Going for nearly 4 hours, this crime epic had its good parts. However it has dated pretty poorly. Set during the 20s, 30s and 60s, it looks far too much like a 1980s film, which it is.
The score (composed by Ennio Morricone, who is a genius) belongs in a romance film, not a misogynistic gangster film where the men routinely assault and objectify women. It also has a very 1980s sounding version of "Yesterday", which is laughable.
The characters are unsympathetic and unremarkable, giving you no reason to root for Robert De Niro's character as he returns to his old neighbourhood for revenge.
Easily the worst film of Sergio Leone's catalogue.