Sleepers [1996]

The first thing you need to know about Sleepers is that it's based on a novel by Lorenzo Carcaterra that was allegedly based on a true story. The movie repeats this bogus claim, which was attacked and determined by a wide majority to be misleading. Knowing this, Sleepers can be a problematic movie because it's too neat, too clean, too manipulative in terms of legal justice and dramatic impact to be truly convincing. And yet, with its stellar cast directed by Barry Levinson, the movie succeeds as gripping entertainment, and its tale of complex morality--despite a dubious emphasis on homophobic revenge--is sufficiently provocative. It's about four boys in New York's Hell's Kitchen district who are sent to reform school, where they must endure routine sexual assaults by the sadistic guards. Years after their release, the opportunity for revenge proves irresistible for two of the young men, who must then rely on the other pair of friends (Brad Pitt, Jason Patric), a loyal priest (Robert De Niro), and a shabby lawyer (Dustin Hoffman) to defend them in court. Despite the compelling ambiguities of the story, there's never any doubt about how we're supposed to feel, and the screenplay glosses over the story's most difficult moral dilemmas. And yet, Sleepers grabs your attention and pulls you into its intense story of friendship and the price of loyalty under extreme conditions. The movie's New York settings are vividly authentic, and Minnie Driver makes a strong impression as a long-time friend of the loyal group of guys. --Jeff Shannon

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Tommy:
This is amazing.

John:
Hello-its been a long time.

Sean Nokes:
Who the fuck are you guys?

Tommy:
I thought you'd be happy to see us. I, I guess I was wrong.

John:
Ya know, I thought you'd do a lot better, ya know. Ya know with all that training, all that time you put in - to stand up a watch somebody else money.

Sean Nokes:
I'm asking for the last time, what the fuck do you want ?

John:
Why don't you take your time, it'll come to you. =pauses=. I could see how he might forget us.

Tommy:
Yea.

John:
Ya know, we were just something for you and your friends to play with.

Tommy:
It's a little bit harder for us to forget when you gave us so much more to remember.

John:
You can't quite place us can ya, chief? Let me help you out - you're looking at John Riley and Tommy Marcono.

Sean Nokes:
Oh yea. Yea, that's right. =pause=. That was a long time ago. So, how've ya been?

John:
We're not kids now.

Sean Nokes:
So what do ya want?

John:
What I've always wanted. To watch you die.

Tommy:
=places gun on table=. Oh-you ordered meatloaf. The brisquet here is real good here only you'll never know it. You fucked up.

Sean Nokes:
Naw-you were scared little pricks-both of you's, all of you's, scared shitless but I, I tried to make you tough, I tried to make you hard.

Tommy:
Well I had you all wrong then Nowkes. All this time I just thought you liked fucking and beating up little boys.

Sean Nokes:
You two motherfuckers are gonna burn in hell.

John:
Yea-after you. =shoots Nowkes in knee=.

Sean Nokes:
Aaaagh.

Tommy:
Did that hurt Nowkes? =shoots Nowkes in elbow and shoulder=.

John:
=shoots Nowkes in arm and chest=.

John:
=shoots Nowkes in chest=.

Tommy:
=shoots Nowkes in forehead=.

Danny Snyder:
I can't do this now. You gotta know that. It's been a long time for me. I mean -ah- you need somebody younger, ya know, somebody like I used to be.

King Benny:
younger is not better. Doesn't have experience, doesn't know his way around the courthouse.

Danny Snyder:
Hey, I'm lucky I can find the courthouse. I had only four cases last year-you know how many I won? None, that's how many, none. In two of them, uh, I, a, I think the jury blamed me personnally.

King Benny:
They must have been innocent. It is tough to get an innocent man off a rap.

Danny Snyder:
I wasn't even planning on going to court with this one. I was just gonna plea it down the best I could and walk away. I wasn't, I wasn't planning on taking this to trial.

King Benny:
Well your plans have been changed.

Danny Snyder:
Well I'm afraid I'll make a mistake and... say the wrong thing and, ya know, uh, uh, make a wrong turn somewhere. You don't want to take that risk.

King Benny:
Life is a risk.

Danny Snyder:
I'm sorry?

King Benny:
Life is risk.

Danny Snyder:
Life is a risk.

King Benny:
Um-huh.

Danny Snyder:
A-huh.I haven't been in here before. What do you need me to do?

King Benny:
Listen. You're going to be given the answers and the questions. All you have to do is read. You can read can't you?

Danny Snyder:
It's, it's, is it in English?

King Benny:
Just don't drift, don't drink, and don't lose.

Danny Snyder:
What if I do lose?

King Benny:
Then you'll go down for the dirt nap.

Danny Snyder:
Never heard that expression before... dirt nap. I'm not cut out for this anymore. I mean a guys gets hit by a bus, ya know, and sues. I like that. Some lady slips in a supermarket, I'm with her, a guy...

King Benny:
The discussion's over.

Danny Snyder:
I'm an alcoholic. This is a murder case. This isn't for me.

King Benny:
It was once. Before you let the drink lead. Be sober by tomorrow and don't look so worried, Snyder. You have nothing to lose, just like the rest of us.

Danny Snyder:
I don't want to be a burden to you, but, I do, you know, aside, or along with my alcohol problem, I have a slight drug problem, I mean nothing big, just...

King Benny:
Go away.

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