Scarface

Scarface ★★★★

Iconic, yes. But for all the wrong reasons.............

The performances, and not just Pacino's, are all so big, so overblown that they almost overshadow the film. Of course for the kind of large scale myth that De Palma was obviously going for, you could argue you needed performances like that.........and they obviously have lodged in the cultural conscious, with lines and images used in everyday life that happen rarely with cinema outside of the cast iron classics.

And yet without Stone's balls in his screenplay (to focus on the characters and relegate arguably the most interesting part of the whole thing - Montana's rise to power - to a soft-rock backed montage) and Giorgio Moroder's amazing electronic score (that gives life to this like Vangelis' did to Blade Runner), the film wouldn't be what it still is.

There's little of the traditional 'De Palma' here - gone are the tricks and flair, bar a single split screen diopter usage prior to the infamous chainsaw scene, instead replaced with a very classicist take on the material, swooping long takes help capture the glorious sun-drenched Miami streets. And this is the film's real visual strength - bringing the underworld out into the colourful and bright sunshine, showing us exactly what this modern world of excess was all about and how intoxicating it all was.

So whilst I recognise its status as one of the classics, its not quite there for me - performances are too big, the film rushes its third act after all the careful character work of the previous two and it leaves too many characters hanging (Pfeiffer especially just disappears) or under developed (Gina, yet again the female characters seemingly there only to motivate the men to hit the next plot point).

But its still a glorious ode to excess, not just in its story but in its telling.

Mark liked these reviews