Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “Sleepers”

(Warner Home Video. 1996. Widescreen. Color. 1 Disc. Rated R. 148 minutes. Directed by Barry Levinson.) Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon, Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Patric, Ron Eldard, Billy Crudup, Minnie Driver, Bruno Kirby, Brad Renfro. Music by John Williams.

Hard-hitting story follows 4 buddies, growing up in the ’60s in NYC’s tough Hell’s Kitchen, as they pay the price for a childhood prank gone wrong: a year in reform school suffering at the hands of a sadistic guard (Bacon) and his cronies. (Sleepers refers to those who’ve done time in a juvenile facility.) Fast-forward 15 years, and the boys, who’ve maintained a pact of silence about their abuse, have grown up into a pair of gang members (Eldard and Crudup), a district attorney (Pitt), and a newspaper clerk (Patric, who narrates). An unexpected opportunity for revenge causes all concerned (and you as the observer) to question the morality of manipulating the judicial system to exact said revenge. Drawn into the controversy are the neighborhood priest (DeNiro), a burnt-out lawyer (Hoffman), and a childhood gal pal (Driver). Levinson takes a deliberate pace in telling the story, which is well-written and benefits from a stellar cast. Delicate music by Williams. This original-release DVD is badly in need of an upgrade; packaging is cheap, and it’s a flipper (movie continues on side B).