Updated: Apr 9, 2020
From its first frame, with its trademark Martin Scorcese single-take, long tracking shot down the hallway of an old age home with a voice-over morphing into an old Robert De Niro reminiscing, The Irishman on Netflix, draws you into the warm, familiar, male-bonding embrace of the Mafia genre (sorry ladies, not being sexist, but I have never heard women discuss The Godfather, Goodfellas, Casino or The Sopranos with the kind of breathless admiration we guys do - you reserve that for the costumes in Padmaavat or Bajirao Mastani😄).
At 3-1/2 hours long, it is a sprawling canvas of America from the 40s thru the end of the 20th century told thru the eyes of a hit-man who worked alongside the legendary Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa, played superbly by Al Pacino, surprisingly being directed by Scorcese for the first time. (His real life disappearance in 1975 is still an unsolved case). Joe Pesci plays Mob boss Russel Buffalino but this is not the bombastic Pesci of “Do I amuse you?” fame - it’s a quietly menacing performance, in a movie that is much more reflective and more reflecting the advanced age of its actors and their life experience (it’s amazing to think that these giants last acted together nearly a quarter century ago in 1995 - De Niro and Pesci in Casino and De Niro and Pacino in Heat).
The CGI used to de-age the actors to show them in the earlier chronology is amazing without drawing attention to itself. It’s wryly funny (the scene discussing the ubiquity of the name “Tony” among Italians is a hoot), has all the typical shots of multiple guys being shot in the head, male ego, inability to express emotion etc that you want in a mob movie but ultimately it’s a brilliant reflection on life and years gone by (“You don’t know how fast time goes by till you get there”) that speaks to those of us now of a certain vintage.
December 8, 2019