Scorsese doing what Scorsese does best.
Charlie (Harvey Keitel) deals with the pressures of working his way up the ranks of a local mob, while coping with his family’s disapproval of his epileptic girlfriend (Amy Robinson). Meanwhile, his small-time gambler friend, Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro), threatens to ruin Charlie’s reputation with debts to a loan shark.
So this is the third film by Scorsese, and once again he is takling the subject of mobsters in New York. This is probably his first as you can see when watching it.
The film is highly original and features a lot of Scorsese’s trademarks that would show in plenty of his later films. First of all the screenplay is so well-written and real. The way it is written as if this was real-life, the characters are serious when they want to be, even funnier when they want to be, and a lot of just all seems real and believable.
The soundtrack is great it is filled with some amazing and eclectic music ranging from orchestra, to jazz, and then to like old pop. The songs layer out all of the scenes and add a lot more style and excitement into that one particular scene.
I also liked the setting and how it basically felt like a character itself. If you want a film to see what Little Italy looked like in 1973, here it is. It is filmed with such a gritty look, that makes this film seem so real and a lot more nasty and cruel than what it tries to give us.
The only problem I had with this film was the way it was filmed. I thought that Scorsese tried to go back and forth in between scenes way too many times, to where I was kind of confused. They never really give us a chance to soak the story in, and I felt rushed to learn everything about this film and its characters right away or I was going to be lost.
The ending also felt a little too rushed and didn’t really serve any true meaning or message. It felt rushed and a little too quick for and ending.
Harvey Keitel shows off some great leading man strength in one of his earlier films here. But the best in the film is De Niro who gives this look at a guy who’s so cocky, and so dastardly, that you wanted to cheer him on, despite he was such a dick.
Consensus: Mean Streets is highly original with great acting, a wild soundtrack, and a beautiful setting, but feels a bit too rushed and not all that there with its message.