Jesse’s review published on Letterboxd:
Alright—since this doesn’t get released wide for a couple weeks, I’ll try and keep my thoughts brief.
I doubt this will be Scorsese’s final film, but man it sure would be an apt one. The Irishman might be his magnum opus. I’m reticent to stand too firmly in that position just yet, but holy hell. He’s at the top of his game here; working in practically every arena he’s ever battled in—and none of it ever feels trite or redundant. This is deeply poignant material that speaks universally on many different levels. Out with the old, in with the new. You live, you die.
“It is what it is.”
The 3 and a half hour runtime doesn’t exactly breeze by, but it’s not supposed to. Scorsese takes his time to meditate on the littler details—the time spent between important events, etc. It feels like a lifetime. Which leads me to an explicit advisory to viewers to not—I repeat—NOT watch this in chunks. Yeah I’m sure that might sound appealing, but trust me, experiencing The Irishman straight from beginning to end is essential to truly feeling the weight of it all; and it is super heavy by its end. It also succeeded in obeying my “cut to black” request at the absolute perfect moment and shot to end the film on. It was beautifully done.
Even the de-aging technology, which I was extremely skeptical about, works really well in this. It was easy to notice at first, but as the film progresses I just naturally adjusted to it. Not to mention, it’s definitely important for these performers to play these characters at every age. It only made that poignancy I mentioned that much more potent. Every cast member is on fire in this, doing some of their best work.
I’m honestly shocked I went as high as I did with my grade, but I can’t shake this one loose from my brain. I haven’t stopped thinking about it once since I saw it. It’s possible the film was elevated a bit by my theater experience—my friends and I got to see this on Broadway at the Belasco Theater, which was unquestionably the best way I could’ve seen this—but I’m damn sure this is a masterpiece. I can only imagine what it was like for Marty, De Niro, Pecsi, Pacino, Schoonmaker, Keitel, and others to put all this together. Seeing them all together again was incredible, and thankfully The Irishman soars in reminding us why we love their combined work. Together, they make some of the purest cinema there is; and this is just that.