The Irishman

The Irishman ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This is structurally and thematically Eastwoodian, specifically late-career Eastwoodian (I'm looking at you, J. Edgar). Like Eastwood's 2011 masterpiece, The Irishman studies the interlocking relationship between crime and the formation of mid-century American politics. Also like J. Edgar, it concerns itself to some extent with death, which always arrives abruptly, and the narrativizing of life.

Interestingly, The Irishman's structure neatly bifurcates two separate emphases on its protagonist's private and public selves. Initially jarring, this decision troubles our preconceived assumptions. Specifically, the third act calls us to question whether our hero has ever actually experienced empathy: look closely at De Niro's performance choices during the already-famous phone call scene.

This film will be widely discussed as a meditation on death, but it's more complicated than that. In particular, the first two acts offer vital reflections on cultural spaces and codes, while also pondering the metaphysical implications of individual choices. It helps that all of this is played out by some of the greatest actors in the history of cinema.

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