It’s really rather difficult to write a review of a Scorsese film. With Scorsese himself being seventy-six years old, you could certainly be forgiven for considering yourself lucky to live at a time when he is still releasing new films, and leave it at that. Similarly, with performances by such industry icons as Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, who came out of his unofficial retirement just for The Irishman, it truly is difficult to give oneself the critical distance necessary to write an articulate film review. However, with that being said, allow me to sum up; The Irishman is a masterful longform drama, that could only be made by someone with the directorial experience of Scorsese. The performances are near-immaculate, the production design is a masterclass in immersion, and despite the film’s three and a half hour run-time, the story never once lags.
The Irishman tells the life-story of Frank Sheeran (DeNiro), a truck driver who falls in with some powerful mobsters. DeNiro plays Sheeran at various stages throughout his life, with the use of digital de-aging. While DeNiro delivers a powerful performance at each stage of Sheeran’s life, the use of CGI de-aging distracted, at times, from what is an otherwise stunning film. Perhaps it is worth examining whether names like Scorsese and DeNiro carry too much weight, so as to allow the filmic license to use digital effects, rather than casting a younger actor.
However, the flipside of that argument is the experience of DeNiro skillfully play out the entire span of a man’s life, and the nuances that such a performance requires. Scorsese’s direction revels in the nuances of performances, and the complex character relationships developed in The Irishman are truly a privilege to watch.