The Irishman is Not Scorsese’s Greatest Work
All the white men you know and love are probably getting ready to sit down and consume the three and a half hour Mafia-greatest-hits of the 20th century film that director Martin Scorsese has unleashed on us via Netflix. I was fortunate enough to be at a screening of the movie at New York City’s Bellagio Theater last week as a benefit for the Actor’s Fund (which provides for guild members who fall on hard times) and to fill the Academy Awards requirement of a theatrical release so the movie can be considered for Oscars. I thought I was lucky, until I realized about half way through the film that I had really seen all of this before, making the three and a half hour run time way too long, even with the stellar performance of Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa.
The bottom line with The Irishman is that it’s out of time. This might have been Scorsese’s crowning achievement had the film been released in the late 90’s on the heels of Good Fellows and Casino, but this is 2019 and a bunch of old (and age-regressed) white guys shooting each other with absolutely no female characters of any depth just doesn’t cut it anymore. We’ve really seen it all before, and Good Fellows and Casino were better movies (and did have some female characters of note).
The plot of The Irishman is pretty simple. DeNiro plays a sort of Forest Gump of east coast Mafia moments from the Bay of Pigs and Kennedy’s assassination to the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. The film opens and closes with DeNiro in a nursing home reminiscing and alone, even though he’s been married twice and has four daughters, one of which has not spoken to him since the 70’s when Hoffa disappeared. The technical feat of regressing DeNiro and Joe Pesci back to their youth is certainly interesting, but we do remember what they really looked like, and this is not it.
I wish I liked the film more, but it didn’t even have the charm of Good Fellows, which is approaching its 30th anniversary in December and will be shown in various locations throughout the country through Fathom events. I might want to see that one again, but I certainly won’t want to rewatch The Irishman again, not even in 30 years.