The Irishman (dir. Scorsese)

Image: Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in The Irishman © Property of Netflix [Source: IMDB]


A mob hitman recounts his life story and his possible involvement with the murder of Jimmy Hoffa.

Director: Martin Scorsese. Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Jesse Plemons [15]

“A Martin Scorsese Picture” – never has a truer statement of authorship been stated before. I hazard to say that this is likely the most creative freedom Scorsese has had on one of his pictures since Casino. His passion still a roaring fire but instead of hard-hitting kinetic energy, The Irishman akin to Scorsese’s late work. Is layered with thoughtful, understated tragedy.

That’s not to say that Scorsese’s passion doesn’t breed an energetic edge to the Irishman. His flavour of direction for camera work is still as present as ever, using the camera to guide the viewer like a proper storyteller should, instead of just cutting to whatever he wants you to see. Scorsese almost puts the camera in the scene as a character in itself, tracking, pans, one takes are aplenty! Equally full of life is, surprisingly so – Al Pacino. He is very much the ‘Al Pacino’ we all know and love but here he brings top form, like an actor starved of a meaty role (as we all know him and De Niro are) he comes at this firing on all cylinders and delivers a powerhouse performance that while loud and bombastic. Has a wealth of human vulnerability to it that coaxes the audience into deep sympathy without even realising it. It conjures up memories of Pacino as Michael Corleone in Godfather Part 1 and 2 which so too does this film and its themes. Echoing the ritualisation, false familyhood and utmost tragedy that accompanies the mobster’s lifestyles.

Giving Pacino a run for his money however is the returning from retirement Joe Pesci, who gives a masterfully quiet and subdued performance that brings a tremendous amount of life to his character that also does remind somewhat of Brando’s quiet (literally and metaphorically) performance as Vito Corleone. Equally, De Niro gives a tremendous performance here, again an iconic actor starved of juicy roles like this that he can sink his teeth into. The one thing letting it down that I will touch on briefly is the ‘de-ageing’. Right off the bat the first scene demonstrating it looks utterly unsettling as if all these scenes are going to look like a great quality video game cutscene. Which would be so horrendously out of touch with the picture it would sink it like the titanic. But thankfully after that first initial scene, I failed to ever notice it again and came to admire the special effects done. Sadly, De Niro still lets slip a little as he still plays his younger self, who he still walks, stands and sits in an old demeanour (without sounding to ageist).

Still, that does not stop this absolute powerhouse train that is unrelenting and unapologetic in its pace, length, violence and creativity. Scorsese tells a story layered with violence, glamoured lifestyle underpinned with boundless tragedy and heartache. Softly speaking to its audience and while it may not top the likes of Goodfellas for me personally. This does stand tall as one of Scorsese’s best films. No one quite does mob movies near as good as Martin Scorsese.

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