The Irishman

The Irishman ★★★½

"From now on, whatever happens happens." The extremely long running-time is something of a joke/tease, three-hours-plus devoted to a vacant, recessive, go-with-the-flow man with nothing to say (De Niro pulled the same trick as director in The Good Shepherd). The de-aging has a kind of poetic significance, though, not just driving home the point - which wouldn't have worked with different actors playing young and old - that it's always the same person, youth containing the seeds of old age, but also affirming that the twilight time is the truest time, the vital young man (not that De Niro ever seems young per se) being just window-dressing for the husk of a man who appears in old age, shorn of distraction and self-delusion, most truly himself because he can no longer fall back on the comical props of the gangster life. There's comedy here, tinged with both mockery and affection, the film working best as a self-conscious end-point for Scorsese's fascination with Mobsters: no-one could say they're being glorified here - they're often ridiculous, arguing about kind of fish the fish was and whether to allow 10 minutes or 15 minutes before the other guy is unacceptably late to a meeting, they have stupid nicknames and get into petty squabbles (Frank walking out in a butthurt huff over being lumped in with Hoffa's "room of fuckin' idiots"; "I didn't even see you there!"), and the violence isn't glorified either, shot in a single take and often at a distance (and sometimes with bad CGI, as if Scorsese can't even be bothered anymore). An old man's film, not just in its theme but in being rather obvious about that theme - Silence had the same problem imo - but it still goes down very easily, and Joe Pesci is remarkable as the human incarnation of a walnut: small, wrinkled, unexpectedly sweet in his way, unrelentingly tough in all other ways.

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