Bad Lieutenant (Special Edition)
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After much thought I have to say that "Bad Lieutenant" really is a monstrous train-wreck of a movie, but what keeps you watching, utterly mesmerized, unable to look away for an instant, is Keitel's performance as the titular character. He's never given a name in the film, or even in the credits, he's just the "Lieutenant," and "Bad?" "Bad" doesn't even begin to describe this guy, as the front of the DVD case puts it, "Gambler. Thief. Junkie. Killer. Cop."
After surviving on the mean streets of New York for 20 years, he has seen, and pretty well done, it all; the "Lieutenant" is a man who exists in a nihilistic Hell of his own making, and we watch as he roars headlong towards his own destruction, along the way, plumbing the very depths of abject human depravity.
A lapsed Catholic, he is still wracked by guilt for the truly awful deeds he commits, whether it's doing and/or selling drugs, booze, sex, gambling, thieving, killing, the "Lieutenant" is a soul in torment. Unable to find a way out, he is sinking deeper and deeper into a morass of yet MORE drugs, MORE booze, MORE bets he can't cover, and more, meaningless, cold, emotionless, and depraved, sexual acts.
Yet somewhere deep inside this blasted shell of a man, there still exists a spark of humanity, so lost in the wretched, savage squalor of his life, that even HE doesn't know it's there. Then one day he becomes involved in the investigation of a crime that shocks even him...Read more ›
Abel Ferrara has had a long and checkered career in the film industry, never quite achieving commercial success, turning out films that are alternately brilliant and boring. And in the middle of all of it, there is Bad Lieutenant, which to date stands alone as Ferrara's magnum opus, an incredibly powerful piece of work
The unnamed lieutenant (called "LT" in the credits and played to the hilt by Harvey Keitel) starts off the movie looking like any other guy, but it only takes a few minutes of us looking in on his day to realize this isn't your ordinary cop. In fact, he's a downright sleaze. Soon enough, he catches the case that will end up becoming the focus of his career-- the rape of a young nun (Stigmata's Frankie Thorn). At first, he tries to treat it like every other case, but as his life begins to spiral out of control, he becomes more and more obsessed with the deeper symbolism of the case itself, how justice and forgiveness are two sides of the same coin.
The case is there, but it's only as important to the film as the mythical Mets-Dodgers NL playoff constantly on radios and televisions (obviously meant to mirror the '88 NL playoffs, but the movie's playoffs differ in certain important ways to parallel better with the plot structure)-- both are only pieces of the puzzle that is the lieutenant. The movie is Harvey Keitel's, pure and simple, a character study of a man whose bad habits have finally caught up with him And Keitel plays it wonderfully. He is the reason to watch this movie. And even if he is the only reason (let's be frank, this is not a film for the squeamish, as many reviews and viewer comments have made clear; it's NC-17 for a reason), he's still worth it. The finest performance of Harvey Keitel's career, and that's saying something. ****
There's a song, "Bad to the Bone," which might sum up the detective, or it might not be strong enough because Harvey Keitel's character is bad to the bone and then some. He lives as a family man, but on the edge, clearly not part of this family, a stuffed man, stuffed with aloneness, stuffed with horrors of his own making. Director Abel Ferrara's filming technique extends this isolation by making the movie look like a docudrama. Filmed on location. No takes. Shoot as is. Keep the cameras rolling.
He starts the day clean as he drops his two sons off at school. During the course of the day he investigates two vicious murders, a store theft he turns to his advantage by keeping the stolen money, does drugs with a stoned out, emaciated redhead, and engages in a menage-a-trois with two women. During this scene he evens out the equal rights debate for male actors to engage in full frontal nudity. Yes, he does. Then he gets his life-defining case--the vicious rape of a young nun by two local petty drug dealers.
Harvey Keitel has spent the day engaged in personal encounters with, well, let's name it, sins of the flesh, of the soul. He sees the nun several times over the next few days, trying to understand what happened to her. When she tells him with her own mouth that she forgives the two men and will not identify them or name them, but only forgives them, he has a major crisis of conscience.
One reviewer calls this film a major religious movie, and, indeed, it becomes so. These are scenes to cherish for their truthful beauty, for their naked exposure of a soul in dire peril.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a tremendous letdown after reading good reviews about it. From beginning to end, this character has no redemptive quality. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Anthony Mitchell
Wrenching story of a cop who needs salvation. Unpredictable ending stays with you.Published 7 months ago by TD
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