Double A’s review published on Letterboxd:
Russell Salvatore is a restauranteur in Buffalo. People love to eat steaks at his gaudy, yet upscale Italian restaurant/hotels, but I had the salmon. This movie made me think of him.
He is overly excited to see everyone.
Pesci is excellent. De Niro didn't get the nod for acting, but I like his performance better than Pacino's. It's subtle. He stutters a lot. For a movie that is so long I was taken with those small touches. De Niro stuttering and hesitating under pressure, even though we know he's going to follow through.
Everyone constantly saying "You know what I mean" or "you understand what I'm saying" also had emotional weight. This was unexpected for me as that phrase is so extremely clichéd in mob movies. But here the perceived importance of speaking softly and in 'code' is undermined by the frame of an old man looking back, slowly wondering if any of it was worth it, especially the loss of relationship.
I've met many old people in nursing homes. The tone of the film gets it right. As other reviewers have noted, this is Scorcese looking back on life. It shows through. The feeling is one of nostalgia mixed with wondering if life was what one had hoped, always bordering on outright regret. But never quite going there. That's the tone I've seen in many old folks who still have their memory: wonder that they are the last one of their friends, sadness of distance from younger family, resignation that regrets are fruitless.
That feeling pervades this movie. And I think it works.