Hitchcockian unease permeates the film, but so too does a Godardian use of space and a Bressonian focus on obsession heighten the mounting sense of dread. These elements are groovy for film buffs but are mere icing on the proverbial cake; you don’t need to be in the know to relish Scorsese’s mastery of the form, and what may astonish even more than the creative prowess is how compulsively entertaining the results are.
Vincent CanbyThe New York Times
Acting of this sort is rare in films. It is a display of talent, which one gets in the theater, as well as a demonstration of behavior, which is what movies usually offer. Were Mr. De Niro less an actor, the character would be a sideshow freak.