A Mike Newell Film
Tri-Star Pictures and Mandalay Entertainment present
A Baltimore Pictures/Mark Johnson Production
"Donnie Brasco" is a story about loyalty and betrayal, " says director Mike Newell. "Lefty Ruggerio is a man who's coming to the end of his time as a man in the mafia. He's never made it, he's never gotten any higher up the ladder than the lowest rungs, and nobody respects him. Then he happens across a young man, Donnie Brasco (an undercover FBI agent), who appears to respect him and be interested in the kind of folk wisdom of the mafia that he willingly imparts. Lefty is very taken with him and starts to introduce Donnie to his superiors, and he gains credibility by having such a smart, young acolyte. He can see a new future for himself with this smart young thief making money for him. Donnie Brasco turns out to be his betrayer as he works his way into Lefty's heart. Meanwhile, the clear loyalties that the FBI thinks Donnie will hold onto, which are that everything on this side of the line is good, become blurred. As Donnie spends more time with Lefty, he sees how human he actually is, and how stressed and complicated and sad his life is. He becomes more and more conflicted about the FBI goals he's there to achieve. It's a story of the conflict of those loyalties. "
Adds-producer Gail Mutrux, "Donnie Brasco is a man who has to make a choice. To do his job means he's going to be responsible for the probable death of this person who he has become very close to over the course of the story, and if he doesn't do his job, then he's betraying himself because this is a person who has set out to do the right thing. It's also, by the end of the movie, about Donnie proving to himself that he has a humanity that the mob guys do not have. By trying to save Lefty, he is doing the right thing as well as showing himself that he's different from them, he's not like them. 'Donnie Brasco' distinguishes itself from most mob films because it is character driven, " says Mutrux. "There are really two key relationships in the movie, Lefty and Donnie and Donnie and His wife, Maggie. The plot is there, but it's the relationships and the dilemmas that all the characters face that drives the movie. The other thing that is different is that the story has a lot of humor in it. It is very, very funny at times. Adds producer Mark Johnson, "Not only is it about characters revealing themselves but it is about who have an underpinning of violence, and that erupts in the course of this movie at totally unexpected times and to unexpected degrees. On the one hand the film is about the dual relationships of the central characters, but it is still very much a mob movie. I think it's more complex than most because the movie becomes very close to being a comedy, there's that much humor in it."