Once Upon a Time in America
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Once Upon a Time in America
Though some viewers might be put off by its length, graphic violence, and absence of likable characters, Sergio Leone's final film is also a cinematic masterpiece. Spanning four decades, the film tells the story of David "Noodles" Aaronson (Robert De Niro) and his Jewish pals, chronicling their childhoods on New York's Lower East Side in the 1920s, through their gangster careers in the 1930s, and culminating in Noodles' 1968 return to New York from self-imposed exile, at which time he learns the truth about the fate of his friends and again confronts the nightmare of his… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Sergio Leone's languid, lovely and lengthy ode to Lower East Side mobsters (more specifically, mobster films) ..."
‑ David Fear, Time Out New York
"A disappointment of considerable proportions."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"A work of tremendous intellectual depth and emotional range"
‑ Dan Jardine, Cinemania
"Handsomely mounted beyond a shadow of a doubt, but as the final statement in Leone's career, it mostly makes me think of how fantastic his Westerns were."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"Spaghetti western master Sergio Leone turns his eye toward an American gangster epic spanning 50 years with surprisingly positive results."
‑ Joe Lozito, Big Picture Big Sound
"Leone is less interested in arousing an audience's easier emotions than in presenting, at a dispassionate distance, the horror of two men warily walking toward each other on a tightrope suspended above the snake pit of their , deepest compulsions."
‑ Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine
"While Leone's vision still has a magnificent sweep, the film finally subsides to an emotional core that is sombre, even elegiac, and which centres on a man who is bent and broken by time, and finally left with nothing but an impotent sadness."
‑ , Time Out
"Here was a filmmaker who specialized in pure, blistering images, and this operatic earthiness just doesn't play as well as the horrifying, salacious stuff."
‑ Steve Macfarlane, Slant Magazine
"While The Godfather delivers certainty and a comforting dramatic resolution, Once Upon A Time In America delivers a profound kind of mystery."
‑ Adam Smith, Empire Magazine
"Sergio Leone's cut is wonderful! Avoid the butchered theatrical version unleashed in the U.S.--I actually walked out on that indecipherable mess."
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"Every gesture is immediate, and every gesture seems eternal."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"There are times when we don't understand exactly what is happening, but never a time when we don't feel confidence in the film's narrative."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Sad and vast yet compelling throughout, this remain Leone's most towering achievement."
‑ , Film4
"In a post The Godfather world, for Leone to even consider taking on an epically scoped New York gangster film took tremendous courage if not foolishness, Coppola had set the bar at an impossible height."
‑ Jordan Hiller, Bangitout.com
"Hugely complex, achingly sad and splendidly gorgeous."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
More reviews for Once Upon a Time in America on Rotten Tomatoes

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