Film Review: Scarface

“Scarface”, Brian DePalma’s searing tale of Cuban gangsters forced by Castro into the United States, has a gritty and grainy quality, matching its omnipotent inspiration “The Godfather”. The performances are universally well-pitched, escorting Tony to the infamous and escatic finale.

“Don’t get high on you’re own supply” is said to Tony by his boss Frank Lopez around a table of drinks, who he means to overrule soon, but the concept is effortlessly dismissed. Tony’s a gritty, rags-to-riches gangster, hard-strung and ticking in every shot of the film. His eye is set from the beginning on Frank Lopez’s girl, Elvira, played by Michelle Pfeiffer , and one can’t decide whether its out of desire for her, or for desire to just slap his boss in the face: probably both.

Their is a keen sense of repressed suicide inside Tony Montana: he will do anything to get what he wants, and one of those things is simply to seem like he does get exactly that. He visits his mother post-poverty and now flourishing gangster, and wants to give his mother money; she, a mature and wise, straight-brow Cuban, shouts back with indignity in a truly effecting scene: she absolutely refuses the money. She knows what hands its touched. Her eyes glow with longevity of her sons’ kind, and she just straight dehumanizes him for the first time in the film. She wants him out of the house, to never come back. He doesn’t give up on his sister, though: Gina, played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, accepts his money and wants to see him. Then Gina is seen throughout the movie, a side-story, Tony’s little baby and protection.

Romantic, fierce, and plain entertaining, Scarface remains a classic in American mob cinema, and a benchmark for street-violence films, where the heart is not shown only in a single character, but expressed in all who surround the character.

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