Mean Streets: 4 ½ out of 5
I was given the opportunity to provide a guest review of a film by Martin Scorsese for Andy Swinnerton’s site, Rorschach Reviews, which got me so excited that I asked if I could review two films. As a result, this is the second of two new reviews I have written in regards to Scorsese’s past work, covering his 1973 effort, Mean Streets, starring Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro.
Charlie: You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit and you know it.
I previously reviewed Bringing out the Dead for my two-part guest reviewing stint that has been focused on covering the career of Martin Scorsese. Now I am writing about one of Scorsese’s earliest works, which is a fitting companion piece to his 1999 effort. Mean Streets is one of Scorsese’s more personal films, as it tackles a topic that he has put on film quite often, small-time gangsters, while also factoring in his Catholicism. The film is less about story and more focused on the lives of these characters and being able to familiarize the audience with the kind of atmosphere they live in. Many of Scorsese’s best films are more about characters and a series of events that lead up to something, rather than really being driven by a narrative and Mean Streets is one of the best examples of this. It was made with a fairly low budget and has signs of an early director finding his bearings, but the roots of many of Scorsese’s other films, let alone the work seen from other directors, have been firmly planted here. While Scorsese would go on to make some of the best films of their respective decades, Mean Streets is a great film to have as one of his starting points.