Mere mortals have to wait until November 1 to feast their eyes on The Irishman, but plenty of critics have already seen Martin Scorsese’s latest. Their verdict? Across the board, the Netflix film is getting rave reviews and the most surprising thing about those reviews is that not only do critics say the movie is great, it’s funny to boot.
In theory, we should expect this movie to be good. On paper, Scorsese directing De Niro, Pacino, Pesci in a film about organized crime sounds incredible. It’s not like this crew lacks experience in mob movies, and tackling the disappearance of Jimmy freakin’ Hoffa is the kind of storyline you’d want this murderer’s row to tackle.
What these early reviews are telling us that the concerns about the film—it’s three-and-a-half-hour runtime and liberal use of digital de-aging chief among them—were speed bumps for Scorsese, not insurmountable obstacles.
She’s not technically critic, but director Ava DuVernay voiced a common opinion of the film: it’s not too long!
Just out of THE IRISHMAN. Running time is 3 hours and some change. For me, it flew by. And if I could go in and see it again right now, I would in a heartbeat. A film made by a filmmaker who feels free. Who has all the tools. All the time. All the talent. And lives up to it. Wow. pic.twitter.com/gPsfn4OyS8
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 30, 2019
Boy. #TheIrishman is a fitting homecoming for De Niro, Pacino, Pesci, and Scorsese’s ode to gangster cinema. Hilarious and sharply written. A portrait of mortality and legacy, told like a culmination of everything we have ever seen in this genre. It’s LONG but never boring. #NYFF pic.twitter.com/OBTAXem4On
— Kevin L. Lee @ NYFF (@Klee_FilmReview) September 27, 2019
Chris Evangelist, a critic at Slashfilm, says there’s a meta-message embedded within the film about a man looking back on his life and legacy. With stars 76, 76, and 79 years directed by a 76-year-old director, it’s hard to disagree with that particular interpretation.
THE IRISHMAN is a masterwork. Funny, epic, and most of all, melancholy. It’s Scorsese confronting aging, legacies, and mortality. I may or may not have teared up at the end…
— Chris EvangelistAHHH!!! (@cevangelista413) September 27, 2019
Evangelist also alluded to something surprising that appears in lots of the initial reactions: The Irishman is funny as hell.
To expand: THE IRISHMAN is well paced. Pacino gives one of his performance in years. Pesci surprisingly plays against type. Incredibly funny. I'll save the rest of my thoughts for the review. #NYFF57
— Robert Daniels @ NYFF (@812filmreviews) September 27, 2019
The Irishman is a funny touching mediation on aging and grief wrapped up in all my fav Scorsese mob drag!
— Kerensa Cadenas (@kerensacadenas) September 28, 2019
And while it might be tempting to assume that the film feels like Scorsese’s other mob masterpieces, more than one critic has said that it doesn’t feel like Casino or Goodfellas or even the most Irish film he’s made, Gangs of New York. It’s its own movie and a great one at that.
THE IRISHMAN is not GOODFELLAS/CASINO part 3. Different pace different tone. It is, however, absolutely fucking fantastic and I am floored. All hail the King.
— Jordan Hoffman (@jhoffman) September 27, 2019
#TheIrishman is utterly exceptional – vintage Scorsese. It takes so much from his best films and then becomes its own. Three brilliant performances and the deaging was no problem at all. #NYFF @FilmInquiry @netflix pic.twitter.com/wTCwhuopY9
— Brent Goldman @ NYFF (@bgoldman22) September 27, 2019
Of course, the downside to these raves is that it’s going to be even harder to sit through October anticipating its November 1 release date. Our advice: get a sitter now, because this sounds like the kind of movie that, even though it was funded by Netflix, deserves to be seen on the big screen.