Mike Apps🍿’s review published on Letterboxd:
I like to think of The Irishman as the anti-Scorsese mob epic! It's more Once Upon A Time In America than, say, Goodfellas or Casino. As great as Marty's crime dramas are, I feel like they are too rock n roll to NOT enjoy.
Frank Sheeran isn't Henry Hill or Ace Rothstein or Frank Costello (another Irishman) or even Jordan Belfort; he never dabbles in money, addiction, glitz and glamour.....he was looking for a cause to belong to, after the war! He is the kinda guy who follows rather than leads. Whether it's the military or the mob, Sheeran seems to be only following orders without question or even understanding. His art is death, and he is good at it. Sheeran's mob hits are quick and surgical - and in true blue collar fashion, he calls it "painting houses" and "carpentry". Contrast that to a Pesci gangster violently battering or stabbing someone to death. But perhaps this is a tough exterior Sheeran has developed from all his active days as a soldier? Notice how he stutters when he talks about his time in the war or why he wasn't there for his family. Like Travis Bickle, he turns the city into a battleground; both men never really left the warzone, they only continued into society.
Goodfellas to me is a street kid and his wife telling you how great his life in the mob was. Casino is narrated by guys who think Vegas was ruined once big corporations replaced the mafia. Wolf is narrated by a salesman speaking to your greedy impulses. The Irishman is narrated by an old lonely man who never seemed to want much from life, who is filled with filled with regret, waiting to die alone.........wait how did Inception get here?!
The Irishman is the kind of movie that only THIS director and THESE actors could make. De Niro is understated, Pesci is restrained, Pacino is not a Corleone or Montana here. Marty dials down the kinetic energy, Thelma Schoonmaker is not frantically editing with fractured jumpcuts. These artists have shaped the archetypal mobster as an American outlaw. But I detect regret for how their movies have intentionally and unintentionally been idolized and romanticized by the media. It's like they're aware people took the wrong lessons from these movies. If this is to be the last of the mob epic (it won't, because some edgy film bro will make some mob pastiche in the future), then The Irishman would be a fitting capstone.
I Heard You Paint Houses is a much better title than "The Irishman" though, we can all agree on that at least.