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NUMBER 6

Carlitio’s Way

Director: Brian De Palma

Starring: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo

Year: 1993

IMDB Rating: 7.9/10

There are few actors as stellar as Al Pacino. From Tony Montana to Michael Corleone, the guy is able to perform convincingly. Regardless of the characters he plays, most of whom are flawed anti-heroes or downright villains, he manages to persuade the audience to root for him, and a great example of that can be found in Carlito’s Way.

Set in New York, the film is a crime drama with elements of a Greek tragedy and aspects of film noir cinema. Pacino plays Carlito Brigante, a Puerto Rican who is released from prison after serving only five years of a 30 year sentence thanks to his cunning and slimy lawyer, Dave Klienfeld (Sean Penn). Carlito returns to his old neighbourhood, determined to save enough money to retire to the Caribbean, and he wants to do this legitimately. He’s convinced that he’s done with crime and the “rules of the street”, but the past is a gaping whole, the more you try and run from it, the bigger it gets. Suffice to say, Carlito’s good intentions quickly spiral into chaos and he struggles to choose between being what he wants and what he is.

From the get go, you know that things aren’t going to end well for the titular character, but that’s what makes the film so interesting. Knowing the outcome, but seeing how it plays out reinforces the idea that it’s very much the journey that matters and not the ending. Carlito’s choices and the company he keeps greatly symbolise his inner conflict; Penn’s Klienfeld character represents the corruption of greed and power, while Carltio’s relationship with Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) represents the fragility of life and how difficult it is to change who we are.

Carlito’s Way is an evocative crime drama and represents my love for the genre. I didn’t discover this film until my early twenties when I watched several Al Pacino films back to back. These included: The Godfather trilogy, Scarface, Serpico, Donnie Brasco and Heat, but it was Carlito’s Way that proved to be my favourite and I believe it fairly represents my admiration for who I consider to be one of the world’s coolest performers.

The Infamous Tense Snooker Scene:

Viggo Mortensen crops up for one scene. How far has Aragorn fallen?

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