The Irishman

The Irishman ★★★★

What kind of man makes a call like that...

The Irishman is a film with its own breathing, beating conscience. Throughout the film, we are introduced to characters with the details of the gruesome fates that await each of them plastered on the screen. There is no mistaking many of these are dead men walking. Men with their fates sealed into the actions we are concurrently witnessing through the retrospective lens of an older, wiser person.

The movie is long. Please, please see it in theaters, as it may be the last new Scorsese film you can do so, but start it with an empty bladder. It's no Wolf of Wall Street in pacing, but it's paced exactly where it needs to be, and never gets slow or disengaging. It's apparent that a lot of thought goes into instilling these moments with extra meaning or tension, from smelling something fishy to giving alcohol metaphors as someone who strictly doesn’t drink.

Acting is superb. Pacino is very Pacino, Pesci carries an intimidatingly loud silence, De Niro is great in every scene, and Anna Paquin gives a phenomenal ghostly presence. She may well have given the Oscar-nominated performance with the fewest lines in history (we’ll see, Judi Dench...).

The de-aging effects have a Polar Express-y softness most noticeable in the early scenes. Makeup is only occasionally distracting (e.g. De Niro’s bright blue contacts). And there’s an early curb scene that should have been re-shot to be less old man.

The Irishman (I Heard You Paint Houses) is complete and wholesome cinema. It gives the Netflix generation a hangout sesh with some of cinema’s most beloved actors dishing out their same gangster core, but with the mental burden and guilt-ridden glances that haunt an aging hitman. The opening song contains everything Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran is about to unfold for us over the next 3½ hours. Over that time the narrative weighs down the tune with a growing heaviness, all the way up until the poignant final shot. This is Scorsese matured and in true form, doing what he does best as a veteran filmmaker and master storyteller, only with the introspection, wisdom, and humanity that confront and reflect on his life's work.

★★★★½ minus ½ for the effects that took me out of the film

2019 Ranked

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