Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:
Today, Tony of Coogs Reviews is here to look at the Best Picture nominee – The Irishman.
BEST Picture Nominee – The Irishman
The mafia film is well worn ground for Martin Scorsese at this point. A lot of the iconic films that we associate with Scorsese have some focus on the mafia or other elements of crime, but The Irishman handles it in a different way. Whilst there is a slight element of romanticism in those films, demonstrating why people would want to go into that lifestyle (despite the horror of it), here, there is no sugarcoating. This shows the brutal reality of a life of crime, the constant sense of fear that you feel that you could die at any moment. Whilst there is some comedic element in introducing a lot of characters with the manner of their death, it also works in showing the brutal reality of the lifestyle.
The use of de-aging effects meanwhile adds to the power of the film. Whilst it is not 100% perfect, as it can’t disguise that Robert DeNiro moves like a 76 year old, this is the best de-aging I’ve seen in a film. There is no point when I see the faces of the cast that I can tell I’m looking at a CG creation, it complements the performances and shows how the characters change over the years. This works best when the cast are aged up at the end, showing their frailty and works in showing the futility and loneliness of criminals at an advanced age. This helps in showing that there is no romanticism in this film, demonstrating that even the best case scenario for those in a life of crime is to die alone and forgotten, all of the work done amounting to a footnote in history for the next generation.
Still, the films works as a historical epic. The 3 1/2 hour runtime of the film allows elements like the changing nature of the unions, the role of the mafia in politics, corruption in the unions and the dehumanising effect of the army to be explored and shows how American life changed during the events of the film. There was no point for me where the film felt long, every element of the film is tight and there isn’t any scene that I would cut out of the film.
The performances as well add to the power of the film. In particular Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino and Stephen Graham are of note in bringing their characters to life, showing the intensity and danger of the time. DeNiro has this intimidating air to him that shows him to be a threat, but as the film goes on shows the loneliness and regret the character feels. Pesci is more soft spoken than in the other Scorsese films he’s been in but is no less powerful, having this air of respect around him that shows how he was able to rise to a powerful position with an undercurrent of menace to him. Pacino shows the charisma of Jimmy Hoffa well, demonstrating how, even with how corrupt he was, he was able to convince so many people he was on their side, and Graham is just a firecracker, this ball of angry energy that is ready to explode at any time. The whole cast is excellent but these are the standouts.
The Irishman is a powerful crime epic, everything about the film works in showing the brutal reality and ultimate futility of the criminal lifestyle, but also shows that elements of history were shaped by crime, even if that history is being forgotten by each generation. With this, Scorsese has proved that he has not lost his touch, and is able to make a 3 1/2 hour long, dialogue heavy film feel intense and, along with the great editing by Thelma Schoonmaker, allows the time to breeze by.