'The Irishman' is the latest film from Martin Scorsese and has been anticipated as much for its cast and director as it was for its infamous budget issues, extensive use of de-aging technology and being Netflix's biggest and most ambitious release to-date. The film follows Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), as he gets tied up […]
'The Irishman' is the latest film from Martin Scorsese andhas been anticipated as much for its cast and director as it was for itsinfamous budget issues, extensive use of de-aging technology and beingNetflix's biggest and most ambitious release to-date. The film follows FrankSheeran (Robert De Niro), as he gets tied up in the Pennsylvania crime world(led by Joe Pesci) and the union war of Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).
I feel that all three of the leading men in this film,Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, will have their own supporters as towho steals the show and who the film truly belongs to. For the most part, DeNiro is 'solid' in the film, not given too much to do or revealed about hisinner thoughts for the first two acts. It is the film's climax where he isfinally given material he can work with, and he nails it. Despite being thetitular character and the vehicle for the audience to experience the world (Ithink he's in mostly every scene of the film), we don't peel back the curtainuntil that third act.
Al Pacino will likely be most people's favorite performanceof the trio as the loud, angry and ego-driven Jimmy Hoffa. He gets the classic Pacinorants and raves to do, and at times (especially when first introduced) he maycome off like a cartoon, but it is never not entertaining, and like De Niro, itall comes to a head in the film's third act.
But for my money, it was the unofficially retired Joe Pescithat stole the show and broke my heart. Playing Russell Bufalino, head of thePennsylvania crime family, Pesci has a presence about him in every scene he'sin that just says 'I'm in control, I hold the strings' and there is one scenewhere he conveys this by just sitting and staring as a conversation between twoother people plays out, it's phenomenal. There is an underlying message aboutBufalino and his desires to be a father, and the way it grows and is conveyedwas devastating; Scorsese actually got me to feel sympathy for a criminal whosectioned the deaths of dozens of people, and that is his gift.
As far as the de-aging goes, it is a lukewarm but overallpositive bag. When you first see De Niro (who is supposed to be about 35 in thescene but still comes across as 50, guess you can only de-age someone so far),the image is a little creepy and animated, but your brain quickly adjusts. Ifanything, the blue contacts they have him wear throughout the film are moredistracting than the de-aging. The work on Joe Pesci is a little more subtle,his problem is he's a 76-year-old asked to move around like a 50-year-old, andlike Samuel L. Jackson in 'Captain Marvel' you can't hide slow movements of oldjoints. Al Pacino's de-aging is actually brilliant, I never once questioned it.
Now, the elephant in the room and the reason this film tookso long to get made. It is 209 minutes long (three and a half hours for thosewho don't want to do the math). Does the film justify its runtime? I mean, no,there are some repetitive story beats and plenty of scenes where characters aresimply sitting around talking. It is a lot to ask for from a theater audience(I didn't consume liquids after noon to prepare), which again maybe that is whyNetflix was so willing to finance, they know folks at home can pause it. Thereare a few slow parts, especially leading up to that third act, and then thefilm takes its time wrapping up. To give you context of the scale and duration:there are 320 scenes in this movie; the average film has around 60.
'The Irishman' is the quintessential Martin Scorsese movie,for better or worse. It has the pacing of 'Silence,' the dark humor of 'TheWolf of Wall Street' and the mafia intrigue of 'Goodfellas.' Will it go down inhistory for more than its behind-the-scenes drama? Time will tell. But it's oneof those films that leaves you with so much to think about and has just so muchto digest (guys, it's 3.5 hours!) that it almost feels unfair to properlydiscuss it after one viewing.