Two brothers, accustomed to a world of violence, determine to avenge the brutal slaying of their younger brother. In so doing, their actions threaten to tear their crime family apart.

Deserves the description \'operatic\' - it\'s thoroughly gripping, and represents some of the wayward Ferrara`s best work to date.

The maverick independent director Abel Ferrara has come up with a characteristically tough and brooding film about revenge and family ties in The Funeral , a claustrophobic gangster drama which compares interestingly with Coppola`s currently revived The Godfather. Ferrara is working on a far more intimate scale than Coppola, but the two films are both about gangster families torn apart as a result of personal differences and conflicts. An opening clip from the Bogart thriller The Petrified Forest sets the scene as the mid-30s; members and friends of the Tempio family gather at the home of Ray Tempio - Christopher Walken - for the funeral of Johnny, Ray`s younger brother. Tensions are high, because the reptilian Ray and his volatile brother, Chez - Chris Penn - are determined to avenge Johnny. With its tense atmosphere and hints that some truly nasty things may happen at any moment, The Funeral is Ferrara at his most interesting. Religious connotations, carried over from Bad Lieutenant, feature prominently, but this is mainly a character study, and this time Ferrara has more female characters involved: Annabella Sciorra as Ray`s wife, Isabella Rossellini as Chez`s. It`s the brothers who dominate, though, along with the principled Johnny, played in flashbacks by Vincent Gallo, a young man involved in dangerous, leftist causes and in off-limits sex with the wife of rival Gaspare, played by Benicio Del Toro. In its own way, The Funeral deserves the description `operatic` - it`s thoroughly gripping, and represents some of the wayward Ferrara`s best work to date.