Film Review: Raging Bull

It’s a strange film Raging Bull; it’s one of those films that everybody rolls out when discussing movies that you must watch. Films that if you haven’t seen you are almost banished from the pantheon of film and movie. And I’m not even going to start on where the majority of boxing movie fans place this film.

My problem though, is that for me, Raging Bull just really isn’t that good.

It’s one of those films where you feel totally disconnected from. It feels like complete vanity film making and with LaMotta’s involvement mean the movie has a sense of watching more of a fly on the wall style documentary than a premium feature film. Which is such a shame.

All is not lost though, Scorsese’s direction and vision for the film bring a quality to it that just oozes class. Whether it’s the use of black and white, or more importantly the fleeting use of colour to portray a real emotion, or the almost seamless altering the pace of the action – from the quiet slow shots to the frantic fast paced action that create an obvious and necessary split between the calm and monotonous routine in LaMotta’s life to the manic, overly controlling mentally that is born and festering from his life and his boxing.

And yes, De Niro steals the show. It truly is his best performance and it is no wonder that he picked up all the awards and plaudits for his performance. But it’s back to the situation where, for 2 hours you’re watching and enjoying one man’s performance rather than the film, plot and setting that performance is in.

This means that for me, when De Niro isn’t on screen, it really starts to drag, bore and make you plan tomorrow night’s dinner. Also the boxing sequences seem a bit forced and repetitive. You never actually feel as though you’re watching a natural fight. Even professional wrestling, and it’s complete staging and planning feels more organic than the fight scenes. Also, with LaMotta famous for his chin and ability to stay on his feet, it’s only after 3 quarters of this film do you see that shown.

I don’t want to hate Raging Bull, it is a classic, and every film fan will watch it at some point, but it’s one of those films that critics love for its individual performance, rather than the overall picture. Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” is the same – it’s a poor movie with a stunning performance so people, especially critics and award ceremonies rate it and place it on a higher pedestal than I feel it deserves.

I just feel that there are better boxing movies now and better Scorsese movies – Million Dollar Baby and Bring Out The Dead if you want examples!

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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