The Irishman

The Irishman

By Joanna Langfield

Scorsese’s mob epic demands and commands. Confident enough to play with traditional storytelling as well as cutting edge technology, this is thrilling work from artists at their prime.

Maybe you’re afraid to watch this story of real life mobster Frank Sheeran, the man who may have killed Jimmy Hoffa, in its intended 3½ hour gulp. At home, thanks to Netflix, the only group to cough up the big production bucks for this one, you can stop and start at will. But it’s a marvel to watch the piece as a whole, with its shifting tones, laugh out loud funny breaks, and its sneaky, very human heartbeat. Of course, with a team telling a tale like this, we walk in with some expectations. We’re ready for the affectionate look back at certain places and times, the testosterone ignited energy, the evocative and dandy soundtrack (thank you, Robbie Robertson). And yes, we get that. But this is no GoodFellas-esque retread, packaged for wistful audiences. It’s smart and, in parts, experimental. While a few moments may not totally work, it is damn near inspiring to see artists not willing to settle, to reach for fresh twists, especially at, let’s face it, an advancing age.

The cast, uniformly, is terrific and it’s great to see actors such as Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Jess Plemons, Harvey Keitel, Marin Ireland and Anna Paquin involved, even though, to my mind, not enough. But, let’s face it. What we really want to see here are the Big Three. Come for the DeNiro/Pesci: it’s sensational. Stay for the DeNiro/Pacino, the extended matchup for which we’ve waited far too long. What we get here makes that wait worth it. These are two masters at the top of their game. And I can’t wait to watch it all, altogether, again.

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