Damson - What we're watching #15
Now that "The Irishman" has been out and available to watch at home, we thought we would give our thoughts...
So, is it epic, or just epically long??
In a word, both.
Martin Scorsese's longest movie yet, clocking in at 3 and a half hours, tells the story of Mafia enforcer Frank Sheeren and ties in with the disappearance of notorious union boss Jimmy Hoffa. A lot has been made of the cast that Marty has assembled, and WHAT A CAST! Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Stephen Graham, and the impeccable Joe Pesci. We could talk for hours about just how good Joe Pesci is in this movie. Just give him every award going already.
We follow De Niro's Frank as he tells his story in reverse from a nursing home. Frank isn't a shouter, he is cool, calm and collected for the most part, with the odd outburst of anger or violence. Along the way he goes from meat delivery driver making a bit on the side to mob enforcer, to finally Hoffa's right-hand man and friend. The story is based on the book "I Heard You Paint Houses" which details Franks' life and makes the startling revelation that it was Frank himself that murdered Jimmy. Whether that is true or not, that is the narrative the movie goes with.
The story shuffles through the decades with ease and the much-discussed facial regeneration makes it easy to understand which part of the story you are watching. The "de-aging" technique used, especially on De Niro can be a little jarring at first, but you soon get used to it. To be totally honest, the fact that you do almost forget it's there is what makes it all the more impressive.
There isn't any escaping the fact that it is an arse-numbingly long movie, but the last 90 minutes especially absolutely fly by. The ending will be debated for years and years to come, which is exactly how a good movie should be. And when was the last time Scorsese ended one of his movies on something that wasn't at least a little ambiguous?
Scorsese has long been criticised for seemingly glamorising the mobster lifestyle, especially after the likes of Casino and Goodfellas. Here he does far from that. Seeing the gangsters who once held lofty status in society and struck fear into those around him in a prison, some suffering with various physical and mental illnesses, is a bold way to end the story.
In summary, is this Scorsese's finest piece of work? Not quite, but it's up there. Don't let the runtime put you off, it doesn't seem as long as it is. If you are the sort of person that can sit at home and watch three or four episodes of a TV series one after another, this will be an absolute doddle.
Stay hydrated, get the snacks in, and enjoy what is easily one of the movies of 2019.
December 28, 2019