29 years on from ‘Goodfellas’, the mobster master dips his toes into the crime-epic genre once again.
I’ve always been a big Martin Scorsese fan. From the sweeping portrayal of a gangster dynasty to Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro continually turning in fantastic performances under his tutelage, he truly embodies a career which has defined some of cinema’s most iconic moments. However, I’ve felt for some time that his directorial power has been on the wane. Not to say that his recent efforts have been bad by any means, but when compared to the period spanning the early 70’s-mid 90’s, Scorsese appears to have been unable to re-find the style which saw him make brilliant film after brilliant film during these decades.
It’s fitting then, that ‘The Irishman’ felt like a film plucked straight from this era. I absolutely loved this movie and to be honest, I’d be surprised if I saw another film from 2019 which I preferred. I think I’m right in saying it’s the first time De Niro and Pesci have shared the screen together in a Scorsese film (or maybe any film?) since ‘Casino’ and it’s certainly been worth the wait. The pair are a joy to watch together. Their chemistry, which you may have thought to be rusty, appears just as slick and sharp as it did 25 years ago. That’s before I mention Al Pacino, who was just as great, playing Jimmy Hoffa to a tee. Acting isn’t something I tend to mention in general really, and it might sound a bit cliche, but seeing these three stalwarts of their craft roll back the years is truly something to behold. It feels like its been a while since the three have been so passionate about a project. Sometimes, all it takes is the right director – one who commands their unequivocal respect. As he always seems to in Scorsese films, Joe Pesci completely steals the show, to the point where I was almost wishing for him to re-appear on screen every time he was absent.
The running time seems to have been a big sticking point for a lot of people, both before and after watching it. And I get that, I really do. At 210 minutes, this is one hell of an undertaking. But to be honest, it doesn’t really bother me. I never really think of movies in terms of being ‘short’ or ‘long’, but rather, in terms of whether or not the running time is justified for the story being told. In the case of ‘The Irishman’, it absolutely is. Despite being three and a half hours long; it never dragged, I never felt bored and really, for a film of these epic proportions, it all needed to be left in to produce the best possible end product.
What starts out as a Scorsesian love letter to gangster/mobster films of a bygone era, ends as something which is more than capable of standing up to, and possibly even eclipsing its cinematic forefathers within the genre. If nothing else, this is certainly Scorsese’s best film since ‘Goodfellas’.
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