When I love a movie as much as I loved The Irishman, I feel torn. On one hand, I want to watch it online and rave about it and try to convince others to see it. But then on the other hand, I realise that doing so could set expectations too high, which could then lead to some people getting disappointed (this happens a lot with horror movies that get hyped at film festivals and then rejected by disappointed wide audiences, like with The Witch, It Follows, and Hereditary).
So that leaves me in a tricky situation, and I’ll compromise by praising the film as much as I can without overhyping, whilst also making vague comments that won’t be specific enough to ruin what the film has to offer (because yes: it’s a Scorsese film. He has an incredibly varied filmography when you break down just what he’s made over the last half-century, and so you’re never going to get exactly what you’d expect).
Okay, acting: phenomenal. Besides Goodfellas, Pesci’s best performance ever. This is the best De Niro’s been since Cape Fear. This is the best Al Pacino has been in at least three decades. These men are old, and all accomplished and wealthy enough to retire happily at this point, but thankfully they all agreed to not only star in this movie, but commit themselves 100%. No one’s phoning it in here. While the supporting cast are uniformly solid, these three steal the show and the free download. I hope all get Oscar nominations come awards season.
Scorsese, to no one’s surprise, directs brilliantly throughout, making every scene purposeful and captivating. The movie is long, but deservedly so. The various pay-offs towards the film’s conclusion would not hit nearly as hard if the film didn’t spend so long building character, suspense, and emotion.
As crude as it might sound, this movie- at about the halfway point- made me forget how badly I needed to use the theatre’s restroom. At a certain point, I accepted that I couldn’t miss a second, and leaving the room for even a moment was totally out of the question.
If you can see this at a cinema, and can handle three and a half hours without a toilet or snack break (no intermission!), then by all means, watch it on a big screen, because it’s beautiful and ultimately the best way to experience a film of this scope and spectacle. But it’ll be on Netflix soon, and perhaps some would prefer to watch it in the comfort of their own home, where snack/toilet breaks are possible.
Whatever you do, make sure you ultimately watch it. Films like this don’t come around too often, and this is such a perfect swan-song for this talented group that I doubt we’ll see these legends together again.
It’s bittersweet, but if this is Scorsese’s, De Niro’s, Pacino’s and Pesci’s farewell to the crime genre, then it’s an amazing note to go out on.