The Irishman

The Irishman ★★★★½

For those who are already used to Scorsese's work, the first few minutes of The Irishman brings a familiar feel. Something close to a time travel when Goodfellas and Casino debuted at the movies. From the narration, camera movements, comic violence, and fast pace, the viewer knows he's in the hands of one of Hollywood's most consistent directors. However, this initial observation does not hold for the entire length of the film. When you think Scorsese will follow in the same footsteps of his previous Mafia movies, the director surprises at bringing Taxi Driver's melancholy and Silent musings as the story is set to its end. At the end of the day, The Irishman is another type of experience. Not only a reflection on the harsh consequences of a criminal life, but also almost a meditation on Martin's career to the present moment. It's the movie that himself wouldn't be able to make twenty or even ten years ago.

The narrative follows the character Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) through the years while working as a mafia's top rent killer. From a structure that often shows the older protagonist telling his life, he also uses lots of flashbacks, thus alternating between Frank's first steps in the life of crime and routine habits full of barbarity. Within the initial segment, to punctuate the different epochs that the feature takes place, it had taken the process of recreating the actors' faces so that they could look younger on the screen. Such technology has been around for a while, with famous cases like Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy and Carrie Fisher in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The procedure in question is risky, at times it works or turns out to be an unpleasant point of distraction. In the case of The Irishman, it is operative in most of the projection. It is undeniable that in the first act the strangeness is recurrent, working only in night scenes and indoors. But as the years go by and the characters begin to look more and more like the performers, the computer graphics becomes ultimately imperceptible.

As the plot unfolds, the pace of the film differs from the first third when politician Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) appears. Before that, the narrative remains relatively simple, with some details that may go unnoticed. However, with the arrival of this new character, the plot enters in more political territory with multiple mentions of American history and countless exposure scenes so that the audience stays abreast with what is happening. For some people there is a chance of losing interest in the movie, as long scenes of meetings and courts now take up a great deal of time. But this is when the quality of the script written by Steve Zaillian and Scorsese's strong direction is best understood, as possibly the most bureaucratic scenes would otherwise be boring and forgettable. Both components can work together to reconcile the mood, self-awareness and balance between the busiest scenes and those focused on dialogue, which brings a non-tiring pace at 3 ½ hours. The film's timing is noticeable while watching, but the long minutes end up strangely serving in favor of the movie. In a way, The Irishman serves as a version of the feature Boyhood (2014), but with the mobster context inserted. Thus it is necessary to feel the amount of years that have passed, because if it were cut at least half an hour, perhaps the long-awaited climax and outcome would not be so impacting.

The cast lacks enough praise to write. However, when you see Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci in the same poster, it's no surprise that the performances are among the best of the year. The three actors have never been so well in a project for a long time, as Joe Pesci was retired, while the other two recently got into box office and critical failures. The supporting cast also serves important purposes for the story, but none of them reach the trinity's feet anywhere. Frank Sheeran's daughters are virtually erased from the movie, serving only for occasional moments. This choice is unusual because Oscar winner Anna Paquin was cast as one of her own, leaving her with a small number of lines of dialogue. If Scorsese's choice were to make the movie into a mini-series, the family aspect might well have been deepened further. Nevertheless, the fact that they are left aside can be purposeful because the protagonist always put the work on the top of his family.

The Irishman is the rare kind of movie. It can easily be compared with classics such as Scarface, Godfather and The Good Fellas himself, comparing both on a technical level to these feature films, as well as in the text that is very strong and is a favorite in future awards. The film will be considered a classic and the director's definitive and more mature look at the life of criminal organizations.

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