Jenna Ipcar’s review published on Letterboxd:
This reminded me of Terra Em Transe more than anything else, though maybe because I just watched it. The Irishman is a three hour history lesson for all you YOUNG’INS who have never heard of no Jimmy Hoffa. Can you believe it? Time sure moves fast. Jimmy. Hoffa. Oh those were the days! For the rest of us it’s a pretty straight forward if not over long film about an Irish gangster who follows all of the rules and gets screwed out of his entire life for it.
I’ve rarely seen Scorsese so solemn and morose in a film like this, it’s closer to Silence than any of his other gangster films. I really dig the gravity he gave to this film, everybody is profiting and ladder climbing but nobody’s really ever having a great time. A party, a wedding, a dinner, a celebration, there’s always somebody creeping around in the background whispering something to somebody. Maybe it’s benign but it’s always a thorn in somebody’s side, which leads to more suspicion and more resentment and more unhappiness. The biggest lie Sheeran tells himself is that anything he’s doing is for any reason other than to support those already in power. The mob and the union are one in the same, purported “fuck you” responses to authority that want nothing more than to become The Man instead. It doesn’t matter how you get there, in the end nobody really wants anything to change—they just want to be the one stepping on necks instead of being stepped on. In that way, the film’s length echos the realization Sheeran has in ‘real time.’ It didn’t need the length to get there, but I always enjoy films taking their time.
Despite the films overall message, Scorsese seems to just adore ol Jimmy Hoffa. Ive never seen Jimmy Hoffa so lovingly portrayed before. Perhaps that’s mostly due to the fact that Pacino is gangbusters in this movie. As is Pesci, who absolutely knocks it out of the park with his indoor voice. Between those two, De Niro is positively flat—which kind of kicks a leg out of the table that is the emotional crux of the film. I didn’t care for his 2D daughter problems (the only good scene was the five second one with the not-Peggy daughter in the end) and I really only felt anything for his plight caught in between two loyalties in the last half hour or so of the film. He’s not bad by any means, but as a sheep of a character he’s just the least interesting. It is what it is.
Entertaining though, and I appreciate Scorsese’s restraint. In that way this was a better Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. I loved the soundtrack too, good job Robbie Robertson. Though I will also say I am not a fan of the CGI youngin-ing of these guys (didn’t De Niro catch his big break portraying a young Brando? C’mon give another kid a chance). I also had to keep reminding myself Hoffa and Irishman were in fact not Italian... and Pacino’s wig looked straight up late Shatner rug terrible in some scenes.