Once Upon a Time in America ★★

A very conflicting film. The first half is astounding, a sweepingly poetic landscape of nostalgia for the past and excited hope for the future. The production design and cinematography are predictably breathtaking- I've thought fondly about that shot on the poster ever since I first laid eyes on it. Ennio Morricone delivers his best Leone score, second only to Once Upon A Time In The West.

Yet almost immediately after we're reintroduced to our adult gang of characters, the film falls apart, becoming largely tedious and lacking a coherent direction. Then our principal character commits two horrific rapes, almost completely without motivation.

From where I stand, this isn't nearly as polished as Leone's two western masterpieces, and it certainly doesn't earn its absurd runtime.

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