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The Irishman Review: True Marvel of Cinematic Excellence

The Irishman

When you have a movie that has seriously outstanding talent on screen, and one of the greatest directors behind the camera, you know you’ll have a film that you are going to love. Despite it’s three and a half-hour run time, you will be captivated by how good The Irishman is.

The Irishman tells the story of a hitman for the mob who has a possible involvement in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa. This is a Martin Scorsese film with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. That’s all I need to say really for you to know this is going to be top class acting. The Irishman is three and a half hours long, which most will find daunting and yes it is a long time, but, despite a couple of early scenes that drag out a bit longer than they need to, for me it didn’t feel that long at all.

It is constantly riveting because of the talent on screen and the talent behind the camera, this film’s pacing is much faster than it’s run time would have you think. One thing I especially loved with this film is the fact that it allowed the characters to ponder how they are felling, to think, and the movie has scenes that are just silence, but there is so much more tension as a result.

Too many movies nowadays have forgotten to allow their characters to think, work out the situation they are in without constant chatter. It’s almost as if films lately have become radio shows with pictures. What I mean by that is, on the radio you can’t have silence, ‘dead air’ as it’s known, people will think their radio has broken, and so many movies are filled with words, exposition that isn’t necessary. We’re almost not allowed to have characters that think, work out the solution in their head, but that is what this film does so well, and these actors are at the top of their game when it comes to ‘expressional acting’ it’s all in the look, the facial expressions, they can figure things out, scheme, ponder and you can see it all going on in their eyes. As a film buff, and I will say to anyone else too who loves movies, and especially the A list actors in this, I was worried that I would look at this film and see them, the actors, the ‘names’, but because of how well it is acted, directed edited and filmed.

I found that I forgot about the actors and was immersed in the characters and that for me is what ‘acting’ is all about. Both Pacino and De Niro are the best they have been in years, and Joe Pesci, who came out of retirement for this, is also incredible. Some may compare this film to ‘Goodfellas’. it’s also a mob film, it has the same director and a number of the same actors are in both, and that’s fine to compare, but the stand-out and most obvious thing to me which separates the two films, is that The Irishman isn’t as flashy, fast-paced and ‘glamorous’ as ‘Goodfellas.

The de-ageing effects are only jarring at first sight but the eye adjusts, and it really helps the The Irishman coherence to have the same actors playing the younger and older characters. It takes it’s time to get into the mind of the characters, it’s more….well, subtle. Martin Scorsese is an amazing director. He has an originality that is present in all his films, they are exciting to watch even though so much of his films are just guys sitting around talking, you find yourself invested in his characters, yes there are moments of violence but there is depth to them all, and this film has all that, but with this one, it’s more quiet intimidation.

This is especially so from Joe Pesci, who is phenomenal in this movie. This is Al Pacino’s first film with Scorsese and he’s got the perfect role here as larger-than-life figure Jimmy Hoffa, he’s over the top but in such a positive way. De Niro though stood out for me. He showed so much command of his character that his lines didn’t feel scripted, he has such a dynamic way of delivering his lines that they just roll out of his mouth so naturally. There is ‘de-ageing’ in this film and knowing that before I watched it, I was a bit worried that it might have looked too fake or distracting, but after a short time I didn’t even notice it, it’s done really well. If I have one niggle about this film, aside from the run time.

Anna Paquin appears as an older version of De Niro’s character’s daughter, and we see the character a lot more when she is younger and she gets quite a bit of screen time when the character is young, however Anna Paquin doesn’t get a lot of screen time yet she is integral in De Niro’s arc, and because we didn’t see so much of her character at that age, for me, some of the strength and impact it could have. There is one 20 min sequence which I reckon is one of the most suspenseful I have seen in any film all year.

There is a long build-up to an amazing ‘pay off’. In short, don’t be put off by the run time of The Irishman, it is an incredible piece of work by an outstanding director with a cast of some of the best names in acting that you can get. I loved it.