The Irishman

The Irishman ★★★★★

The Unforgiven of the gangster epic. God, that final thirty minutes is a gutpunch that one can’t prepare for. A movie bound to haunt and linger. I might come back around to writing more on this, but for now I’m just a little knocked around and speechless. De Niro and Pesci give career best performances, and Scorsese makes his greatest since The Age Of Innocence... if not ever. An extended held breath of a movie, and the exhale is as sharper than you can possibly imagine. Under literally ANY other director, this script would have crumbled. This is the swan song, the culmination of Scorsese in that it handles all that Scorsese has touched on before - catholic guilt, gangster morals, generational differences/misunderstandings, etc - and frames it ALL through such a mournful lens. Christ, easily the film of the year - genuinely painful to the point of hurting the heart. This and The Mule coming out so close together just makes me want to cry. The kind of a movie that makes other movies seem comparatively weak - I might not watch anything today or tomorrow.

Also, just clicked with me that this with Goodfellas acts similarly to the Eastwood Flags of Our Fathers//Letters From Iwo Jima pairing, in that they both act as set ups and then reversals. This film is the antithesis to Goodfellas - it takes away the glamour and leaves only the savagely depressing. None of this is glorified.

All too aware this is a real incoherent mess of strung together ideas, but as I said, I may return and pull something stronger together at some point.

Edit: *spoilers* After some additional thought, and thinking about Scorsese’s favourite films, I can’t help but notice the connection that this also has to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - another genre-ending, melancholic masterpiece that takes down larger than life heroes and makes them people as vulnerable as you and I. I also couldn’t help but notice that the two have distinct focuses on politics as a reason for their respective genres coming to an end - in Liberty Valance, the new smart man replaces the brawny cowboy after they work together, in The Irishman, politicians win and gangsters are all forgotten, or dead, after they assist each other.

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