Raging Bull is a very well regarded movie and sometimes considered one of Marty’s best. So, it is amazing that I really did not know too much about it before I saw it this weekend after having DVR’d it like a month ago. I went in expecting to see a boxing movie. Well, maybe a more artistically rendered boxing movie in black and white and so forth. Then maybe 20 minutes into the film, it hit me. This is not a boxing movie, it’s a movie about a man who happens to be a boxer. It’s about his psychology, obsessive jealousy and insecurity. It is also one of the best biopics I have seen and certainly one of Scorsese’s best movies.
Rocky is a boxing movie. You like Rocky Balboa and you want him to win. His rounds in the ring are long and highlighted to make us care. Raging Bull’s main action takes place in between the short brutally bloody fights. We get to meet Jake La Motta and observe his relation with his brother and manager Joey and his wife Vicky. He is no Rocky, he is certainly not very likable. Jake manages to slowly but surely destroy both of these relations with his insecurity and temper. Then he’s in the ring and he either punishes or gets punished. One of the best buildups in the movie is the one leading to the fight with Janiro. The young man Vicky and many others describe as ‘good-looking’. La Motta does not just win the fight, he punishes Janiro and beats his face to a pulp and then looks straight into Vicky’s face as if asking her ‘is he good-looking now?.’ Robert De Niro plays the young athletic fighter and then the sad overweight dope to perfection. Also at the top of his game is Joe Pesci as the smart, fast-talking and sometimes short-tempered brother Joey. Fantastic stuff.