‘Mean Streets’ is a far cry from most of Martin Scorsese’s work and stands as an early black mark on his otherwise extraordinary career.
His inexperience is most apparent when dealing with the films misjudged religious undertones. The movie opens with a lesson in forgiveness (‘you don’t make up for your sins in church’) and then regularly revisits Harvey Keitel’s character’s prayers to God. However, the film does nothing to make you either agree or disagree with that opening statement, which negates the whole driving force of the film. Scorsese seems to want us to have an opinion on the matter, yet he never gives us any justifiable reason to because the films so dull and uninvolving.
Mean Streets does little to hint at Scorsese future greatness, especially in the crime genre, but he must have learnt a thing or two from the films failures . . . and thank God he did.