I’m jumping straight in and addressing the length of this film first. The Irishman is long; at 209 minutes it’s the sort of piece you need to make a commitment to. Personally, I don’t usually have over three hours to give to something in one hit. And I care not a jot for anyone proclaiming that watching it in more than one sitting is wrong. So read on knowing I watched the first hour, and then came back and finished it a couple of days later.
It is worth it. Scorsese’s latest journey into the darker corners of human behaviour is a tale of how a man makes decisions, and his reflections on the effect they’ve had on him and those around him. It tells the story of a man’s life, and it needs time to do that effectively.
The de-ageing tech used on the main actors is another talking point, and one I’m less convinced by. Sure you can make De Niro look 30 years younger, but you can’t make him move 30 years younger. My Dad is the same age, and despite his fitness, no amount of CGI or posture training can reverse how he moves and how we holds himself. Technically impressive, yet consistently undermined by the truth.
One of my favourite aspects of this film, which covers fifty years of real life house painter (Google ‘I paint houses’) Frank Sheeran’s life, is the lack of glamorisation. New characters are routinely introduced alongside not only when they died, but how too. Suffice to say, they generally aren’t nice deaths. Being a mobster is no way to live, and Scorsese places that front and centre.
Something I didn’t expect The Irishman to be was a history lesson. Jimmy Hoffa was a Simpsons gag and a measure of how much someone could disappear. All the business with Unions and links to the Kennedy’s were a mystery, so I’ve learnt something too.
There’s a lot of film here; fortunately The Irishman has a lot to like in it. The cast, including a semi-retired Joe Pesci, lean into their own cinematic histories to lend this film gravitas. It rightly takes its time to introduce, build, and lose characters. There is a weight and a purpose to it all, even if it isn’t immediately obvious.
Netflix are a completely viable alternative to the cinema with pieces like this. In this case, the film matches most of what the big screen can produce, but I’m glad I got to watch it on my sofa.