Ahead of its worldwide Netflix release on November 27, Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ had a limited theatre release. Here are the pros and cons of the film.
As you settle in for the 209-minute epic ‘The Irishman‘ be prepared to be hit with a wave of nostalgia as Martin Scorsese takes you through his interpretation of Charles Brandt’s biography of Frank Sheeran ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’. The film features stars of Scorsese’s past in Harvey Keitel, Robert DeNiro, and Joe Pesci in a mature redo of the mob epics that made Scorsese the master filmmaker he is.
PROS – In the past, Scorsese caught a lot of flack for his depiction of the mafia in his films. Well, in this film there is no glamourization of La Cosa Nostra and depictions of mobsters as caricatures. For example, unlike the bombastic lightning rod Pesci played in films like ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Goodfellas’, and ‘Casino’, in ‘The Irishman’ he plays Russell Bufalino, capo of a Philadelphia crime family headed by Angelo Bruno (played by Keitel), in a calm and collected manner.
Also, unlike his previous films, we’re introduced to key characters in Sheeran’s (played by DeNiro) life with a description of their death superimposed over them. It’s a reminder that although some of these folks live glamorous lives, it is sometimes brief and when the end comes, it’s often brutal. Sometimes, however, as is in Sheeran’s case, being associated with the family can demand so much of you, that you lose touch with what should matter most: your family. In cases like these, the end isn’t violent and brutal, it’s a cold, long, and lonely process.
Finally, seeing Al Pacino, who played Jimmy Hoffman, team up with Martin Scorsese for the first time ever will leave you wondering what could’ve been if the two had collaborated sooner. While it was rumored that the role of Travis Bickel in ‘Taxi Driver’ was originally offered to Pacino, at the time Scorsese hadn’t been tied to the picture yet, so any real chance of the two teaming up prior to this really wasn’t a possibility.
CONS – While I hate to complain about the length of films, ‘The Irishman’ comes in at just under three and a half hours. This will turn some folks away. While it is their loss, there is a lot in the film that could have been cut without losing the essence of the story.
Finally, there are two reasons why the state of the art de-aging process used to make characters appear younger throughout the film didn’t work for me. (1) The characters, Sheeran in particular, didn’t look all that much younger. Instead, it felt like we were watching a video-game version of Robert DeNiro.
(2) What’s more, since, apparently, no CGI was done to DeNiro’s body in order to appear younger, they opted to have him wear shoulder pads, making him look like he was wearing a football uniform under his clothes. Sure, this didn’t take away from the film in all, but for somebody looking closely, it could be, as I said, distracting.
At the end of the day, this 209-minute epic elevates Scorsese back to his glory days. A time where he was easily the best director in the business, but not recognized for it. With this film, Not only is Marty back at the top of his game, but he is also without a doubt the best filmmaker out there now and, possibly, ever.