Friday, July 03, 2020

Believe Care Invest: Donnie Brasco

Why it might be hard to identify with Donny:
  • As we discussed in our most recent podcast, he plays his cards close to his chest. We’re not even sure he’s a good guy.
  • …but that makes him more believable (We’re finding this, aren’t we? The things that make a character believable are often potentially off-putting if not balanced out with Care and Invest.) 
  • Also as James and I discussed, we admire both his expertise with jewels, and his cool way of conveying that Lefty’s gem is fake: He examines it and then says, “Why don’t you give it to your wife…You should give it to someone who don’t know any better.”
  • When Donnie finally calls his wife, and she’s gotta go back to sleep, he says, “Put the phone on your pillow, I wanna listen to you breathe”, which is a painful way of saying “I miss you” that we’ve never heard before.
  • The details of the mafia world are fascinating and convincing (The difference between “friend of mine” and “friend of ours”.)
  • Because Donny, in the guise of an apprentice, is subtly dominating Lefty almost from the beginning, we don’t actually fear for him very much. We worry about him more when we see the damage this does to his marriage and family.
  • We always love humiliating ironies, and it’s ironic when both the mafia and the FBI tell him at the same time that his mustache violates their regulations, but his wife tells him, “That was the only thing I liked about this job.”
  • We always like watchful eyes, and the movie begins with a close-up of Donnie’s watchful eyes. He quickly proves himself to be a bad-ass, beating up the guy who gave Lefty the jewel. We admire how he manipulates Lefty. He tells the FBI: “I got him, I got my hooks in the guy.”
Five Es
  • Eat: Misses Christmas with his own family to eats Coq Au Vin with Lefty’s family.
  • Exercise: All he does when he’s in his apartment is lift weights.
  • Economic Activity: He’s pretending to be a jeweler while actually working for the FBI: He tells his wife, “You get the checks, don’t you?”
  • Enjoy: Not at all, except listening to his wife breathe. He pretends to enjoy dinner with Lefty, but we’re never sure to what degree he’s just acting with Lefty.
  • Emulate: Emulating Lefty every way he can.
Rise above
  • Not until the very end of the movie, when he half-heartedly tries to get Lefty to flee before he can get arrested, but even then he’s unwilling to break character, so he fails.
High five a black guy
  • Nope.


Harvey Jerkwater said...

I am 100% with Matt - this is a great and horrendously underrated movie. It should be considered a classic.

Matt Bird said...

Thank you!