Cinema Review: Raging Bull

Raging BullA cleaned-up digital print for the 1980 true story of Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro), a Bronx bruiser who boxed his way to professional stardom, then lost everything to debilitating paranoia and a shocking inability to stop slapping everyone he knew.

Frequently voted as The Greatest Film of All Time by those with such little imagination they can’t find the beauty in Darby O’Gill and the Little People, director Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull is gorgeously shot in monochrome hues and is never less than a fascinating journey.

DeNiro’s Academy Award winning portrayal of LeMotta is apparently accurate, as such this makes him a deeply flawed (borderline psychopathic) and unsympathetic (loud, jittery, eventually obese) protagonist. LaMotta was a self-tormenting powerhouse; as likely to crush those he loved as much as his opposition in the ring. It’s impossible to resist following such a talented born loser on his inevitable trip into oblivion. Though it's not fun.

Watching LaMotta’s downfall from champion to pitiful stand-up comedian and club owner is no more enjoyable than it sounds, yet it is interesting, rewarding and, at times, surprisingly episodic. If you’ve never seen Raging Bull, it’s nowhere near as artwank as you've been led to believe.

Crackling with oft-quoted dialogue (“He ain’t pretty no more”) adapted by Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader from LaMotta’s autobiography, Raging Bull is a justifiably worthy experience and certainly one you shouldn’t miss on the big screen.

Though beware all you Fat DeNiro virgins, you might not love it as much as you think you’re supposed to.

Raging Bull is released thru Park Circus on 17th August.