Film Review: The Godfather, Coda: The Death Of Michael Corleone Dir: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Sofia Coppola

No, this isn’t a new addition to The Godfather franchise, but rather Francis Ford Coppola’s re-edit of the 1990 film formerly known as Godfather III.

At the time of its release, Godfather III was roundly and (in my opinion) unfairly panned for two reasons…it wasn’t as good as the first two Godfather films and many fans and critics felt that young Sofia Coppola was not up to the task of starring in a major motion picture. Both opinions are valid but not enough to justify slagging Godfather III as a dud.

I remember seeing the original back in 1990 and being quite impressed with it. Sure Sofia Coppola is/was no Meryl Streep but aside for a few awkward moments I felt she carried the task she was assigned with a good amount on innate star power…sadly one potential Mary Corleone (Rebecca Schaeffer) was murdered on the day of her audition, then Wynona Ryder quit on the first day of shooting.

So, with nepotism part of the Coppola family tradition (Francis’ sister is Talia Shire, his father is an acclaimed composer and Nicholas Cage is a nephew). So Sophia stepped up at age 19 and did her best. Of course she would eventually follow in her dad’s footsteps and become a respect film director (The Virgin Suicides, Lost In Translation). Honestly Sophia looks absolutely luminous in the film and she (fortunately) has little dialogue.

The real problem with Godfather III back in 1990 was it felt somewhat unfocussed and the plot was convoluted.

Some of those issues have been addressed with Coppola’s new edit. Most of the work has been done at the beginning and end of the film and it is shorter by six minutes. The biggest improvement is the re-edit as the beginning…tighter, more coherent story-telling, while the flat-out change at the end is unnecessary, with the original final scene being a better fit in my opinion.

Otherwise this is a beautifully-shot, written and acted film with Al Pacino giving another incredible performance…”Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back it”…and that iconic “silent scream” are two career highlights. And Talia Shire deserved her own sequel after this and did Andy Garcia.

This is essentially the same film as the original with a few tweaks. Most are for the better. Hopefully fans with revisit the films, set aside previous prejudices, and look at it anew.  It deserves it.

Marty Duda

The Godfather Coda screened in cinemas just one day…it will be available on various digital formats from December 8th.