Review: Dazzling Boardwalk: I'll Drink to That!

Have the Roaring '20s ever roared with such vibrant, violent, extravagantly entertaining life as in HBO's Boardwalk Empire? This instantly captivating period piece feels thrillingly modern as it captures with remarkable detail a chaotic time of invention and re-invention, of social progress and prosperity upstaged by the gaudy corruption and jazzy debauchery of the Prohibition era.

Boardwalk brilliantly marries Martin Scorsese's virtuosic cinematic eye to Terence Winter's (The Sopranos) panoramic mastery of rich character and eventful story. They romanticize Atlantic City as the Rome of a bootleg empire, where gangsters converge from Chicago and New York to traffic in illegal hooch (among other vices).

Presiding over the glittery boardwalk - itself an astonishing creation - as power broker/carnival barker is town treasurer Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), a self-made cock of the walk whose scrawny demeanor cloaks a cunning, ruthless ambition. "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story," he tells a hotheaded protégé (Michael Pitt) as he plies his trade. Nucky is equal parts showman and sham artist as he woos local Temperance suffragettes while overseeing criminal enterprises with the help of his brother, the sheriff.

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