Sadly, The Irishman marks the end of the 2019 London Film Festival. However, this five-star review for the latest Scorcese film attests to this year’s successful cinematic harvest as well as the excitement for the awards season to come.
It is no understatement when I say The Irishman is the biggest, most anticipated film of the year – after 12 years in the making. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Martin Scorcese are all artistic masters, and they’ve made a film of undeniable brilliance. In their ninth collaboration, both De Niro and Scorcese transcend expectations, offering a daring, striking, and ingenious vision.
The Irishman covers 60 years, telling the true story of truck driver Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) as he befriends Russell Bufallino (Joe Pesci) and his crime family. Over time, Sheeran climbs the ranks to become a hitman for Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) – an American labour leader tied to organised crime. While this sounds similar to Scorcese’s previous mob films, The Irishman has a fresh approach, setting itself apart from a typical gangster film by its numerous comical scenes. The wittiest line goes to De Niro: “usually three people can keep a secret when two of them are dead.”
Longer than The Godfather; Titanic; and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly;The Irishman’s 210-minute run-time seems intimidating. Scorcese has been under scrutiny for not opting to make this a limited series, but the film’s coherence is amplified as a stand-alone feature.
The original use of de-ageing technology makes this film such a sensation. Most of the $159 million budget was spent on this technology: all of the characters are given a ‘digital facelift’ to distinguish between the past and present.
Scorcese’s films improve with his maturity and experience. The Irishman reflects the advantage of his wisdom, while leaving room for some nostalgic reminders of Goodfellas. It’s much more than a gangster film, exploring the melancholic effects of ageing and the subsequent loss of humanity – a prospect that everyone can relate to.
Despite the Irishman’s recent release, its grace and creative beauty make it feel like a classic that will undoubtedly be remembered for generations to come.