The Irishman (2019) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Hands down of the best epic film of the year comes in the form of a 200 minutes plus Martin Scorsese’s gangster bloodshed genre film about ageing, power and everything you need to know about life both literally and figuratively. “The Irishman” is as much as a swan-song of sorts for both the veteran director and the main cast of Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. The trio provides an amazing backdrop to the proceeding and everyone of their acting years are called to play. The 3.5 hours film breezes by the minute and hour without ever feeling overlong and by the time that comes for the credits to roll, we are heart-wretched that the journey is over as we grew to understands and identify with each characters. It’s a beautiful film, excellent cinematography, detailed period set pieces and an outstanding directing and cast to boot. This is a film made with a love of cinema (ironically officially released on Netflix as a medium) and for the ages.
Robert DeNiro plays the defining role as the real life hitman and butcher/“painter” gangster Frank Sheeran. DeNiro simply up-stands the film’s innate quality with a cold and enclosed character that gets the job done. The fact that his eyes lingers very little with regret as we see him reach old age and the reflecting goes somewhere within himself. It’s a deep and sophisticated acting that allows DeNiro to shine through. It’s Joe Pesci that steals the limelight that should provided him with a much earned career Oscar performance as the ruthless and calculating Russell Bufalino. What Pesci lack in size and height is compensated with a heightened sense of unrelenting ego and gangster boss’s presence. The best scenes are the ones where he makes the calls and decisions to end someone’s life. Al Pacino plays Union boss Jimmy Hoffa. In this role, Pacino is a showman, right out there and it’s probably the most fitting for Pacino in more than a decade. There is so much depth in this character that we probably end up relating more to him than the other trio.
All in all, “The Irishman” is easily a cinematic masterpiece made for classic cinema fans. It is a film made with such precision and timing that allows a fitting finale for three magnificent faces of Scorsese’s cinematic career. There is deep and insightful understanding of old age, life and something very different to previous Scorsese’s works, but there are still the gangsters and bloodshed elements throughout. It is a film that is ultimately about the end of one’s journey and the old age that comes with any hero along the way. If this is truly the quadrant final film together, the audience will be happy to chew and digest with pleasure. One for the ages.
I rated it 9.5/10