By Caroline Meuser
Though I was exposed to Goodfellas early in life, I did not experience the type of positive introduction that most “cinephiles” probably have. To me, it was one of those films that TNT constantly featured and, while my dad sat enrapt as Joe Pesci pumps seven bullets into his friend’s chest, I classified it as a film I may watch in full eventually, but for the time, I could do without the emotional disturbance incurred by seeing men willfully destroy their lives and the lives of others through organized crime.
Martin Scorsese adapted Goodfellas from the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi. By 1990, Scorsese and Pileggi organized an utterly triumphant cast and screenplay. Ray Liotta narrates most of the film as Henry Hill, an aspiring-turned-successful Brooklyn gangster. In a menacing, poignant performance, Liotta illustrates Hill’s tumultuous existence – from his collaboration with mob figures Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) and Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) in 1955 to his dramatic fall from criminal grace in 1980. Within this time period, the glamour of violence and riches blind Hill and company. With each murder, drug deal and robbery, the line distinguishing their actions between dutiful and disturbing rapidly fades.