The Irishman (2019) – Film Review

the irishman film review main

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Certificate: 15

by Roger Crow / @RogerCrow

I’ve no idea what the budget was for Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, but The Irishman looks like it cost more than his first five films put together. (Given the fact the cast list has 489 people, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Imagine the catering budget alone). There are times when it feels like ’Now That’s What I Call a Gangster Movie’.

If you’re a fan of the director’s best work, there’s all your favourites: scenes of overly macho posturing; moments of domestic drama; mumbling; families; respect, or a lack of it; simmering tension; cars with fins; audacious overhead tracking shots.

the irishman film review pesci

Then there’s the stellar cast. Bobby De Niro, Joe Pesci (making a fine return to form with one of his best ever turns as Russell Bufalino), the sublime Stephen Graham, and hoo harrrr, Al Pacino’s Jimmy Hoffa, turned up to 11. Obviously. I’d have settled for three-plus hours of them, sat around a table reading from the phone book, they’re that compelling.

Alas women aren’t given much to do except stand around a bit looking like wallpaper. And occasionally emoting while a bunch of alphas stand off.

There are times in the final act when it feels like every other scene is punctuated by people getting shot in the head, or cars with and without fins exploding. But there’s also much needed levity, and the odd random bit of life advice like never put a fish in your car.

the irishman film review de niro

“Epic feast”

Nobody makes movies like Martin Scorsese, and thank heavens for that.

The Irishman no doubt benefits from the big screen experience where you can absorb all 209 bum-numbing minutes in one sitting, but as I’ve reached the point where I can’t cope with punters on their phones in theatres, or folks talking around me, I’m glad I saw it in a few bursts on Netflix. It’s an epic feast for lovers of great cinema, and a treat to see masters of their craft sparking off one another.

There are times when it feels like a remake of Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy, given the squashy faces of some of its anti heroes, but that’s no bad thing. I could have stared at Joe Pesci’s face all night. Oh, actually, I did.

the irishman film review pacino

Some films are better on a second screening when you know who’s who and what’s what, so I may give it another look to savour it all.

I’ve no idea how accurate the tale of union leader Hoffa (Pacino) and the gangsters who orbit around him is, but maestro screenwriter Steve Zaillian has no doubt done a great job of adapting the Charles Brandt book.

If you can cope with the ketchup and violence, this is well worth a look.

The Irishman is currently streaming on Netflix

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.