State of Grace
Starring Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman, John Turturro
Directed by Phil Joanou
by Mark Phinney
The Westies. For any two-bit punk who doesn’t know, they were tough bastards. They had the goods on Hell’s Kitchen on Manhattan’s West Side for years. Gun runners, drug movers, loan sharks, and really big drinkers, they were the Irish Mafia, at war in the streets with the Italians, and anyone else with big enough balls to fuck with them. Phil Joanou’s real time fable of brotherly honor and betrayal is one the best mob films in a long, excluding Good Fellas and Miller’s Crossing (also covering the efforts of the Irish, set in the ’40s instead of the ’80s). Sean Penn’s Terry Noonan has come back to town, after leaving the gang headed up by boss Frankie Flannery, stressfully played by Ed Harris. What the ol’ boys don’t know, though, is that Noonan is now a cop serving his time on the force in Boston. Gary Oldman (who deservs of a nomination for this work) is Jackie, Frankie’s loose nut brother and Terry’s best pal. When Penn is sent in undercover to nail the crew he becomes heavily involved in reliving the old days and starts to have second thoughts about bustin’ his old pals and making matters worse, he gets involved with the Flannery sister. When it comes time to take the boys down or walk away from the badge, Noonan has demons bigger than any mob to tackle. This is a great film, with tight performances, and all worth it if even just for the Oldman scene in the bar at all hours of the morning.