Uncut - 02/01/2005
"[With] inventive camerawork...[and] inspired use of music....Essential."
Sight and Sound - 07/01/2005
"Scorsese's breakthrough feature fizzes with energy....The director brilliantly unleashes a host of techniques and cinematic references..."
Entertainment Weekly - 07/13/2012
"Scorsese adrenalizes the film with mad bursts of violence, dizzying camera flourishes, and the sinister sound of the Stones blaring from the jukebox."
Martin Scorsese's electrifying drama tells the story of Charlie (Harvey Keitel), a charming 27-year-old who is supported by his devoutly Catholic mother. He spends his days wandering the streets of New York City and nights hanging out drinking with his good friend Johnny Boy (the terrifyingly brilliant Robert De Niro), a loose cannon that can't seem to escape trouble. Charlie's extreme affability makes him the middle man between his mob-tied uncle Giovanni (Cesare Danova) and various clients, as well as between Johnny Boy and Michael (Richard Romanus), a bookie who has become fed up with Johnny Boy's constant debt dodging. As the city's San Gennaro Festival takes over the streets of Little Italy, Michael seeks revenge on Johnny Boy once and for all.
MEAN STREETS is the film in which Scorsese blossomed into one of the world's most ferociously distinct visionaries, a vision which has, for better or worse, become one of the most mimicked in the history of modern cinema. While his usage of a nostalgic pop music soundtrack, long one-takes and handheld cameras, and brutally realistic performances, spawned a generation of imitators, MEAN STREETS proves that while others may try to imitate, there is only one original. MEAN STREETS is a work of sheer cinematic bravado.
This classic of modern cinema tells the brutally realistic story of a small-time hood who gets in over his head with a vicious loan shark. In an attempt to free himself from both the obligations and dangers of the debt he incurred, he enlists the aid of a friend who is also involved in criminal activities.