Starring: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent.
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Martin Scorcese
Written by: Paul Schrader & Mardik Martin
Ladies and gentlemen please welcome the raging bull, Jake La Motta. This has got to be a film almost all of you would have heard of. It chronicles the rise and fall of boxing middleweight champion Jake La Motta. The man who was so powerful in the ring but so judgemental out of it.
The story begins with his first divorce. He struggles to control his temper with his wife and they argue ferociously about small issues such as the cooking of a steak. The rows begin to change his wife who begins to react to any comment he makes causing her to yell at him down the street from the window for all to see. The marriage is doomed from the moment we witness it.
His life begins to change though when he meets Vicki (Moriarty). She is a bubbly young girl who all the men want to be with, but she takes a liking to Jake and they begin to date. She follows his success in the ring and it looks like she takes every punch that he does. She is a young girl falling in love.
Over the years, Jake's happy life outside the ring causes him to excel in it. He fights his way to a position where no one wants to fight him. Once he reaches this point he seems to believe that it's his wife that wants to fight him. Inside of Jake a jealous monster is released.
There is great chemistry between Jake and his brother Joey (Pesci), the brother that idolises his sibling. He does anything he says including punching him in the face and siding with him over the jealous spats against his wife. Jake's jealousy really becomes apparent to us when his wife states that the guy he is fighting next has a 'pretty face'. Something Jake can't accept. In his fight with the guy he pummels his face so hard that afterwards he looks into his wife's eyes from the ring as if to say, 'he ain't pretty no more.'
After this Jake is given his title fight, which he wins, causing him to be away from home a lot. Joey is given the duty of keeping eye on Vicki and whilst doing this he causes a full on bar brawl in a posh venue because she is having drinks with friends. This is no business of Joey's but what his brother asks he does.
Later however, once Jake becomes aware of the brawl, he turns on his brother and suspects him of sleeping with his wife. This causes the two to fight and leaves the siblings parted. Jake continues his career without his brother and eventually loses in what would be his last fight. Years later a divorced Jake is a fat failed comic and his life has changed significantly. From being on top of the world he quickly becomes underneath it.
The film manages to show us lots of angles on his life. It isn't really a film about boxing, it is about jealousy and how one man can hold his temper in the ring but not out of it. How much of this is fact I will not know but if it is this man could have been something great but let it all go due to low self esteem and selfishness. He slaps his wife around and then his brother causing him to lose all he loves. To look at Jake la Motta at the beginning of the film compared to the end will show a significant difference to how this man has changed.
I keep referring to the man as Jake. As you will all be aware is that Jake is played by De Niro, but De Niro is that good that he IS Jake La Motta. He is brilliant, from the muscular boxer to the fat stand up. He hits every emotion brilliantly especially when he is locked in prison and realises what he has lost. Pesci is also brilliant and his chemistry with De Niro is as if they are real brothers. Some of their interactions, like in the accusation scene and the scene discussing that 'if he wins, he wins and if he loses, he wins', is top drawer and some of the best scenes you will see. Moriarty should also be mentioned particularly as she plays a middle aged woman with ease considering she was nineteen when she starred in this film. She starts off so bubbly and ends as if a prisoner, shown in a fantastic shot of her surrounded by mirrors. The acting was great, the script great and the story great.
My small qualm is with Scorcese however. I know he won several awards for this film and he is a fantastic director, but I have an issue with him. Every film he makes I continually spot continuity problems. Maybe I am just anal about it but with a film maker as brilliant as Scorcese these things shouldn't be happening. Sometimes it distracts me when I don't want it to.
I don't want to leave it on a slight downer though as it is a very good film. Don't watch it for boxing as you are not getting a Rocky, watch it if you want Rocky with a bit more depth.
4 / 5
Next film to review: X THE UNKNOWN
Next film to review: X THE UNKNOWN