Lorraine Bracco turns in a powerful portrayal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutor who fought to jail reputed Gambino crime family head John Gotti. Performances, Roger Young’s direction and James Henerson’s script are so involving that audience may forgive anticlimactic ending.
It turns out that Bracco’s character, Diane Giacalone, isn’t the person who brought Gotti down; her seven-year investigation and six-month trial prosecution resulted in a “not guilty” verdict. Gotti was convicted some years later by prosecutors who — despite their court victory — were less successful than Giacalone in landing a TV deal.
Pic is a cross between “The Godfather” and “The Untouchables,” with plucky Giacalone a distaff Eliot Ness, gathering public-payroll crime fighters to war against the smooth Gotti (Anthony John Denison). “You were the guys who wanted all the crap we go through each day to mean something,” she tells a roomful of diffident gumshoes in one of the film’s more spirited speeches.
Director Young and cinematographer Ron Stannett give the film an appropriately gritty look, making better-than-usual use of Toronto locations as stand-ins for NYC. Henerson’s script is not without wit, notably in the portrayal of Harvey Sanders, a fellow who will, it seems, double-cross anybody. Jeremy Ratchford plays Sanders with leering good humor.
Ellen Burstyn and Jason Blicker appear briefly as Giacalone’s mother and brother. Denison moves convincingly from “street” to suave; Gene DiNovi appears, unbilled, as an aging crime boss eventually unseated by Gotti.
Most cliches of the genre remain intact: Italians yell a lot at one another over the dinner table, listen to Puccini and Sinatra. “We gave the world Michelangelo, Puccini, Verdi,” Giacalone informs, defending her civilization while stopping short of Christopher Columbus, Monica Vitti and Chef Boy-ar-Dee.