6.5/10. Long but masterfully crafted. The Irishman may have long overstayed its welcome by the runtime, but it’s still created with passion and precision.
I know this might go against the grain of other critics but it’s hard to ignore the giant elephant in the room: this film is way too long. At 3 hours and 29 minutes, The Irishman is not only Martin Scorsese’s most expensive film (estimated to be $159 million), it’s also his longest and I really felt the runtime with this story.
While there are moments of tension and violence, for the most part, the plot unravels itself as an epic periodic drama and slow-burning character study. After the film finishes, there’s a very good reason why it feels like a lot of time has passed but, in my opinion, it still hampers the experience of trying to watch it in one sitting. Which is why I’d recommend watching the film in hour blocks and over two or three nights, similar to a TV-miniseries which is almost how it feels.
I also feel that a lot of from the first hour of the film could have been cut without ruining what the rest of the film sets up. Most of what you see is similar to the vein of Goodfellas, with several little side stories or groups of people being introduced, but after a while, they all seamlessly blend into one and I can’t tell the difference between each of them. This may sound like an oversimplification, but it was a lot of talking and saying, “hey there’s this person, and his little background, then there’s this guy and his little background” and apart from a few characters, most of them weren’t really interesting.
Having said all that, the last two hours of this film, especially the final act, is where everything comes together nicely. The power relationship dynamics and performances between Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, elevate the film to become something more than just another gangster film. Just like the film’s runtime, the characters age drastically, and you really get to see the impacts on what happens to them. In a way, it reminded me of what happened at the very end of Scorsese’s other film, Gangs of New York.
In terms of production, it’s another fine example in this man’s illustrious filmography. The aging effects of the characters were something that stood out the most, especially with what they did to Joe Pesci’s character, who felt completely different to his deranged psychopathic character from Goodfellas and looked more calculated and mature both visually and in persona.
It’s clear to see that both three actors and indeed everybody that worked on this film clearly gave a crap because they all looked to be at the top of their game. No doubt this is because of the opportunity to work with Scorsese, who seems to be doing just fine in his older years with another fine film to add to his long career.
The Irishman may be a long and tedious watch for some, but ultimately, it’s a good film with a deeper story than what can just be seen on the surface. It’s what it is.
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