Tuesday, February 5, 2008
MUST-SEE: (Barry Levinson) I saw this 1996 film for the first time recently and can only express regret for having waited so long to see it. Director Levinson brings the tragic story of four boys growing up in Hell's Kitchen, NY, conditioned to a life much older than their years, but living each day knowing nothing better. Growing up with the neighborhood priest as their best friend and mentor (Robert DeNiro), the boys are good kids deep down, some wishing to be priests themselves, but as the mood and tone of the narration implies, they are inevitably destined for short lives of tragedy and hard luck. Sleepers does a phenomenal job of setting up the audience with a deep understanding of the boys as adolescent kids and easily transitions into the mature minds of the boys as young men. Still troubled by a past of abuse and humiliation as teens, the young men have settled into the lives that were waiting for them. This film illustrates Hell's Kitchen in an extremly believable fashion, tugging at your gut for pity watching the boys accept violence as a way of life and forcing you to see a world in the shadows, a world overlooked by many and forgotten by even more. Through the boys, Levinson plays on stagnation in a downhill town and reveals the deep scarring capable of cursing teen boys with lasting effects on their spirits. Brad Pitt and Billy Crudup play powerful roles as two of the boys grown up. DeNiro, as always, is raw and convincing and a short performance by Dustin Hoffman provides this film with the credibility it needed to showcase its mastermind. Take a strong stomach and forgiving heart to see this film, but don't miss it. Sleepers changes your own spirit and creates its own lasting impression.