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The movie portrays an intimate picture of the trivial incidents an intimate picture of the trivial incidents and latent violence in the world of Charlie - is a young Italian-American man and Johnny Boy. A small-time hood struggles to succeed on the 'mean streets' of Little Italy.
[F]or all the violence of the streets, this is less a crime film than a character piece, a love letter to the streets of New York's Little Italy and the young men rattling around like tough guys and fantasizing about becoming the real thing.
No matter how bleak the milieu, no matter how heartbreaking the narrative, some films are so thoroughly, beautifully realized they have a kind of tonic effect that has no relation to the subject matter.
May 20, 2003
Los Angeles Times
Its greatness lies in its leanness, with nary a word, a move, a gesture that's nonessential.