The Funeral (1996) - Plot Summary - IMDb
The Funeral (1996) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • After the funeral of one of their own, a criminal family decides to embark on an emotionally unnerving journey in an attempt to exact bloody revenge.

  • In the 30's, in New York, the coffin of the leftist gangster Johnny Tempio is brought to the house of his older brother Ray for the wake of family and friends. Ray is a cold gangster that likes to read and is married to Jean. His brother Chez is a hot head that runs a bar and is married to Clara . Ray decides to revenge the murder of his younger brother and believes the gangster Gaspare is the one who killed Johnny. Meanwhile Chez has a breakdown with tragic consequences for the Tempio brothers.

  • New York City, the 1930s. A powerful crime family is caught in a lethal crossfire between union organizers and brutal corporate bosses. Against this turbulent backdrop, the family's three street-hardened brothers and the women they love are about to be plunged into a deadly confrontation with their enemies, with each other, and with their own dark heritage of violence, madness and murder.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Director Abel Ferrara puts his finger on the pulse of the world of sin. The Funeral is a dark portrait of a family "not broken enough to believe in God". The film opens in a movietheatre where Johnny Tempio (Vincent Gallo) is watching Humphrey Bogart talking about death. After the titles we find ourselves at the home of the Tempio family where a coffin is brought into the house. When the coffin is opened we see Johnny; he's dead. His oldest brother Ray (Christopher Walken) seems to be the head of the family. He's a gangster. Behind his ice cold gaze lives the hunger for revenge and strategic 'gangster-justice'. When Johnny's other brother Chez (Chris Penn) enters the house the mood seems to change from silence into rage and fear, for Chez is a man on the edge of insanity. Madness, rooted in pain and fed by anger. The movie progresses into a parallel structure where we follow the three brothers through flashbacks up against the present where the two remaining brothers are dealing with their loss. The movie is a depiction of gangster life, without the traditional glamour and romanticism. The more mainstream enjoyment and stylistic elements of the famous gangster films are dismissed and replaced by pain, suffering and hopelessness. The Funeral is a bleak but powerful film about the fate of sin. A film about a place in the world where redemption is far gone. As opposed to most of Ferrara's films The Funeral finds no salvation for the lead character(s). Chez, the insane man turns out to be the man that does the only sane thing. End this life of evil and immorality by the only means possible in his way of thinking.

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