The Funeral

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The Funeral

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The Funeral

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Director Abel Ferrara's latest despair-fest concerns 24 hours in the life—and death—of a Depression-era gangster family. The funeral's guest of honor is Johnny (Vincent Gallo), one of three hotheaded brothers, who has been murdered under quasi-mysterious circumstances. The characters proceed to carry on in flashback, as well as after Johnny's wake, pretty much the same way gangster-movie characters have since 1971, tossing each other around the room, soberly talking "business" and smoldering with plans for revenge. Just about every major character here has at least one penetrating scene that reveals surprising motivations behind his or her conventional behavior. Performances by Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Anabella Sciorra, Isabella Rosellini and Gallo are all strong. But the screenwriters have saddled Ferrara and his cast with an overly fatalistic plot, which means the solid groundwork laid for character development can go only so far. The ultimate payoff is a shocking ending so nihilistic it's almost laughable.

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