DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
The crime/maffia genre is mainly lost on me, which is my loss as it has produced some classic films. I can admire and appreciate these films for their cinematic qualities, but they hardly ever appeal or connect to me.
Scorcese is a fantastic director as he has with Casino managed to warm me to the genre. Where he failed to do just that with Goodfellas, the scope, the very human protagonist and Scorcese's stunning attention to detail in Casino make this perhaps one of his best films.
Robert DeNiro gives what could be his last truly great performance here. His Rothstein is a man so human in his weaknesses, making his downward spiral a painful, yet intriguing, thing to watch. DeNiro carries this three hour epic with the greatest of ease. He is of course aided by a stellar supporting cast and I loved how the central trio of characters was allowed to shine, each stumbling down life's slippery slope. But as good as Pesci and Stone are, it is DeNiro's performance and character that sucks us into the narrative.
Scorcese imbues his film with incredible style and penache, but it is in the tonal shif halfway where he truly excels. It is something he is unbelievably good at. The transition to the grimmer side of the story is handled with subtlety even though the actual violence is anything but. It is that sensation of slowly losing control and life catching up on you that Scorcese manages to convey through his incredible pacing, making that running time fly with the greatest of ease.
I guess that I connected with Rothstein, feeling sorry for him somehow and caring about what happened to him. Perhaps not something to be expected from a film about organized crime, but I found it all the same. And I'm glad I did.