The Irishman

The Irishman ★★★★★

“I just didn’t get it. They just kept digging. Their own graves, y’know?”

As much as I’d like to see Leo in 1920s Osage County trying to work out whose killing all the natives, I also kinda hope this is Scorsese’s last film. As the final chapter of a saga that started proper with Mean Streets, it couldn’t be more thematically or dramatically apt. 

After 50 years doing hits for the mob, Scorsese - and Frank Sheernan - finally sit down to take stock and try to figure out what it all means. The key difference is, Frank finds it to be mostly meaningless - am endless string of errand boy jobs that amount to nothing more than a few forgotten bodies in unmarked graves, furnaces and woodchippers. Scorsese, on the other hand, leaves a body of work that will live on forever.

And yet, despite their differences, they still ask the same thing once their journey’s at its end: to leave the door open a little bit. To not say “it is what it is”. To leave the chance for something more, always something more.

What this tells us about Marty (and indeed about the nature of life and work) effectively reframes or at least adds a new shade to his back catalogue, and basically locks-in the personal narrative critics have been trying to affix to his career for decades.

The film itself is not his strongest - it never drags but it is too long, and it’s a bit musty and never truly alive like his best work. But as the capper on a career that has taken us deep into the dark heart of man and brought us dripping black blood back to the surface so many times, it’s more perfect than we could have ever hoped for.

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