Carlito’s Way (1993)
Brian De Palma
144min., United States/Germany/France
“Should have figured I’d find you walking around up here. Doing a little memory lane.”
Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino), finally a free man after years spent in prison, vows to give up his criminal ways of living. Yet his move towards a new life isn’t easy as Carlito must resist every taunt and every opportunity that might drag him back into his old lifestyle. Soon enough he gives in and the ex-con is sucked back into the New York City underworld. By reconnecting with his dance girlfriend, Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), who shows him the person he can be in a happy life, but by them reconnecting – Carlito gets intertwined in the shady dealings of his good friend Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), who also serves as his lawyer. When both Carlito and Kleinfeld run afoul of shifty gangster Benny Blanco (John Leguizamo), it sets them on a dangerous path.
Cristina Álvarez López & Adrian Martin on Carlito’s Way
“Brian De Palma’s Carlito’s Way is a masterpiece in several senses of the word: not only an exciting and moving film, but also a perfect, elegiac tribute to a rich American genre. As a contemporary gangster movie it shares much with De Palma’s earlier classic Scarface (1983). Both are set in a gaudy milieu of seedy nightclubs; both feature Al Pacino as a street hood who has worked his way up the criminal ladder and is trying, in his own peculiar way, to live out the American Dream of success and personal fulfillment. And both films feature extraordinary action set-pieces.
But whereas Tony in Scarface was an excessive, animalistic figure, Carlito Brigante is cool, almost serene, and above all intent on going straight. Beautifully adapted by David Koepp from novels by Edwin Torres, this sad, haunting story gives De Palma the scope to reveal the poetic, reflective side of his art as never before. And the work of De Palma with Pacino here produces one of the finest collaborations between a director and an actor ever witnessed. On every level, Carlito’s Way is one of the great films of the 1990s.”