According to his Wikipedia entry, Mike Newell is best known for directing Four Weddings and Funeral, Donnie Brasco and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. While I have watched and quite enjoyed all three of those movies, it’s fair to say that anyone watching Donnie Brasco on the basis of the other two might in for a bit of a shock.
Which isn’t to say it’s not a great movie, but there is a touch more violence in Donnie Brasco than I recall there being in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
It’s great alternative to Goodfellas if you haven’t quite got enough time to watch Goodfellas and a perfect vehicle for Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, who are both pretty much at the top of their game in this.
Score for Christmasishness
About a quarter of the movie is set during the Christmas period, including an two pivotal character-establishing scenes set on Christmas day itself. So, while Christmas is not central to the overall plot, the early part of the narrative does feel stronger for being set at Christmas. So it is quite a Christmas(ish) movie and well worthy of inclusion in anyone’s festive viewing schedule. But approach with caution of you’re a fan of Newell’s other projects.