Raging Bull (1980)

Raging Bull (1980)

1980 | R | 129 Minutes


When Jake LaMotta steps into a boxing ring and obliterates his opponent, he's a prizefighter. But when he treats his family and friends the same way, he's a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at an...

Overall Rating

9 / 10
Verdict: Great

User Review

  • WHAT I LIKED: Martin Scorsese has always enjoyed pointing his camera at characters' everyday worlds - in Mean Streets he spent many moments just observing gangster meetings with little significance to the overall narrative, and Taxi Driver spent ages observing the surrounding New York city - but it has to be said that he's never since or before made a film quite as naturalistic as Raging Bull.

    Yes almost everything about this movie is entirely passive, as we simply watch a world (in this case New York city) and a man within it (a professional boxer) live out sections of his life. The camera rarely cuts and almost never goes to close-up, it simply sits and observes conversations and moments which do nothing to build a narrative, but do everything to paint a picture of this man and his world.

    The picture that all paints is a very interesting one - a world of opulence meeting depravation, and a man who (unsurprisingly for Scorsese) struggles as his conscience wrestles against his destructive will as he drives those he loves away from him with his anger and paranoia. The ability to paint this picture so well though (and to keep it engaging) is unlocked on the one hand by a set of great natural performances from Robert DeNiro and cast, and on the other hand by the script and Scorsese's devotion to shooting on location.

    All in all that makes for one of the most natural and forbearing films I've ever seen, and one of Scorsese's most interesting works for sure.

    WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The affect of all that passive naturalism can be rather numbing. As a result, I don't think it's Scorsese's best film, but I do think it's one of his most interesting, and it works extremely well for what it is.

    VERDICT: A passive portrayal of New York City and an interesting character within it - there's nothing raging about 'Raging Bull.' This is Scorsese's most naturalist film of all, and that's both an interesting and a problematic thing.