D.J. Haza presents the next entry in his series of films to watch before you die…
Carlito’s Way, 1993.
Directed by Brian De Palma.
Starring Al Pacino, Sean Penn and Penelope Ann Miller.
Brian De Palma’s crime film Carlito’s Way is based upon two novels, one of the same name and it’s sequel After Hours, both written by Judge Edwin Torres. The story takes most of it’s influence from the latter, but used the name of the former in order to avoid using the title of another film at the time. Carlito’s Way is a fantastic story of redemption, trying to break free of one’s past and making a change when everything around you drags you back into the trappings of old.
The film follows Carlito (Pacino) on his release from prison as he tries to go straight and earn enough money to get away and retire in paradise. He visits his old flame Gail (Miller) and tries to reignite their relationship as well as taking a job running a nightclub. Constantly resisting the influences of old friends and showing restraint on those who cross him Carlito tries his best to go straight. However, his relationship with his lawyer, David, is the reason why trouble finally gets him.
Roped into helping spring a known mobster from prison with David he finds himself not comfortable with what he is doing or David’s obvious cocaine problems. When they finally get to the mobster, who is holding onto a buoy in the East River after jumping from a prison barge, David takes it upon himself to kill him and his son. With the mobsters of New York looking for David and knowing of Carlito’s involvement he tries to put a plan in place to get out with Gail for good. Can Carlito get out in one piece or will his past catch up with him?
Brain De Palma originally had his reservations about making another Spanish-influenced gangster film thinking that it would draw too many comparisons to Scarface. He was right and some stated it treaded over old ground laid by both Scarface and one of his other film The Untouchables. The film initially received mixed reviews, but has gone on to earn cult status and is firm favourite amongst many film fans.
Carlito’s Way is a film you must see before you die because although it was not believed to be a box office or critical success it is a cult classic that has had wide and varied influence on popular culture. Carlito’s Way has been sampled by Slipknot and The Prodigy, the characters have influenced many other stories and characters as well as the film influencing many other filmmakers.