Tuesday 20 September 2011

Serpico [1973]

One might not place Sidney Lumet on the same pedestal as Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, but there’s no doubting the fact that he was as quintessential a New York filmmaker as them. Serpico, considered among Lumet’s best works, certainly remains a sterling illustration of that. The film chronicled the real-life story of Frank Serpico, a fiercely idealistic New York cop of Italian-American origin, who committed the unthinkable act of going against his colleagues and the establishment in order to let the public know the kind of corruption that existed within the police force. His breach of the sacred code of omerta that is so sacrosanct among the police didn’t just lead to him being ostracized, he in fact became the principal antagonist within his own department – this nearly cost him his life and certainly his job. But his whistle-blowing finally did lead to a formal investigation and earned him the kind of applause that he deserved for his dare and his doggedness. Al Pacino gave a superlative turn as the protagonist whose love for the then-counterculture spirit might have alienated him among his peers, but that never deterred him from his individuality and integrity. With its gritty and grimy portrayal of crime and corruption, the film managed to touch a nerve and became a cultural icon amongst the angst-ridden Americans. And, with Lumet at its helm, it also managed to be a bleak tone poem on the Big Apple – a city that never ceases to fascinate people.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Genre: Drama/Police Drama/Biopic
Language: English
Country: US


Chris said...

As you say, captures the city of New York well, and a great performance by Pacino in a difficult role.

A pity Al, Dustin, and DeNiro don’t make these kind of movies anymore where they could display their acting talent, they seem to go for the easy money these days. (although Limitless and Barney’s Version are recent exceptions for me)

Shubhajit said...

Yeah, I agree. Most of Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro's recent works are anything but commensurate to their acting talents. However, that said, they did act in some of the most amazing movies during their peak as performers. In fact, despite all his recent blemishes, I still consider De Niro as one of the most incredible actors. Fortunately, Jack Nicholson, another actor who I deeply admire, mostly stayed clear of their way post his peak days. Thanks a lot for posting your frank views.

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