Ah isn't writers block a wonderful affliction!!! I watched Carlito's Way immediately after A Constant Gardner, but once I had typed up the afore mentioned review the blockage kicked in. Damn!! It is very frustrating because I started a new blog several days concerning the fiction I read but am unable to type a word on it!!
The worst thing about blogging is actually garnering enough people to read your blog. It takes me over an hour to type one review because my touch typing skills are so atrocious, so it can be a real bugger when very few people read your efforts! But never mind the writing practise is good and sometimes some of the things I write come out really well and that is reward enough....but only sometimes!!
But I ramble, which is a classic sign that I can't sit down and nail a review. Carlito's Way divided critics on its release. Some felt it re-treaded old ground and was un-original in premise. To a certain degree that assessment is correct, but Carlito isn't the first, or last, movie to offer up a re-hashed plot is it?
The movie centres around a recently released drug dealer named Carlito. In the first scenes we see him in court vowing he is going straight and will never be put behind bars again. The judge shakes his head and says he's heard that one before. As we cut to Carlito's first days outside we see him on the streets and unable to believe his word on going 'legit'. His lawyer and former colleagues don't believe it either and try to intice him with new deals. But it doesn't take us, and the criminal fraternity, long to find out he is actually serious.
Al Pacino as Carlito is quite interesting as he plays a Puerto Rican who has a cross between a drawl and lisp speech impediment ( Colin who won an award recently for something similar?! ). As a criminal this is familiar territory for Pacino, who as an actor, I'm somewhat hot and cold on. He can be brilliant and yet turn around and be quite flat. In Carlto he is a bit middle of the road, neither outstanding or awful. Solid would describe his performance.
For me Sean Penn is the stand out, and yet again re-afirms his position as one of our generations truely great actors. I have yet to see him turn in a poor performance, it is a pity he is such a jerk in his private life though. Pacino and Penn, great actors though they may be, don't really develop an on screen chemistry here. They work well together professionally, but somehow they just don't gel. I never felt they were the buddies they were meant to be, or as close. Again it is a solid performance but nothing more. Penn as a crooked lawyer is outstanding. He is a partially bald Jew with curly red hair. It is a real transformaton and it took me some time to recognise him as he looks so different.
The realtionship between Carlito and his former girlfirend Gail feels the same way. Solidly performed but somehow they just don't gel as an on screen couple. Compare them to Fiennes and Weisz in a Constant Gardner who were brilliant. Part of the problem is the age gap. It is too vast to be credible and Pacino looks like he is robbing the cradle as Carlito. Penelope Ann Miller as Gail, is an incredibly attractive woman/actress ( and quite stunning nude...what breasts you have my dear!! ), but I couldn't help but feel she was there as nothing more than eye candy and to stroke Pacino's ego. She is very good in her role but the chemistry isn't there, and Pacino really does look like a dirty old man.
So unfortunately we have here in Carlto's Way a movie that sees its actors unable to gel even though they each put in solid performances. I would have thought the chemistry between a quality cast as we have here should have been better. The movie suffers somewhat for it because the performances feel too individual. Even Viggo Mortensen has a minor part and is quite good as a whiner, and like Penn has his physical apperance radically altered which makes him hard to recognise at first. The lack of geling between the actors sees Carlito's Way as a movie relagate itself to being just above average. As stated the plot of a crim vowing to go straight and yet unable to escape the lifestyle isn't new. Combine that with the somewhat remote performances of the actors amongst themselves means Carlio's way is nothing out of the ordinary. It seems all I have done is critisie the movie. In many respects I have, but it is still a reasonable watch and shouldn't be discarded too quickly. It is just above average in terms of quality and originality, but as you all know there is some real garbage out there in the world of cinema and fortunately Carlito's Way isn't in the former.
I recommend it for a quiet watch on a rainy day or for when you want something that is a reasonble, easy on the brain, type watch. If for nothing else see it for Sean Penn, because he is the standout as a real shit person, and crooked lawyer. Just marvel in his apperance as it is an incredible transformation!!
Watchable? yes, enjoyable? yes, but ulimately unremarkable? yes.