Oscars 2020: “The Irishman” Review – A Great Martin Scorsese Movie

Before the Oscars take place this weekend we’re looking back at the nominees. The Irishman is nominated in 10 categories including Best Picture. Check out our review here.

After years of development, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman is finally available to stream on Netflix. Scorsese had been attempting to make the film with Robert De Niro for roughly 15 years, but was delayed due to the precedence of other films and scheduling conflicts between the two. The film is based on real events and centers on De Niro’s Frank Sheeran, a WW2 veteran and Mafia Hitman who worked for Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The film sees Sheeran in a retirement home, recounting the 25 years or so that he worked with Bufalino and Hoffa, leading up to Hoffa’s death in 1975.

The film is everything you expect it to be for a Martin Scorsese film made in 2019 with this cast. It’s a long epic tale of mobsters and how their lives change over time, occasionally touching on the ways in which it affects their families. The stand out is without a doubt the performance of Pesci as Bufalino. Pesci plays the role against his normal type, always calm and collected. Not once does he go into a screaming fit over something, and his ability to be reserved and somewhat calculating shows a talent that is more than you’d expect from the man known for his on screen outbursts. It may in fact be the greatest performance Pesci has ever given. For that alone, the film deserves attention, and for Pesci awards recognition.

The Irishman Pesci
Image via Netflix

Otherwise, the film leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a very slow burn, with a lot of dialogue, and not much action. This is a film that tells you everything, but unless you’re interested in the things being discussed it doesn’t pack much punch. There are discussions on who should be taken out and how and when. There are title card moments that explain how different mobsters die over the decades, usually shown when we meet each person. But each scene is just a moment of dialogue between different members of the ensemble. It gives the actors a lot to work with but isn’t the most enthralling piece Scorsese has done.

The film features some great shots, and great dialogue, but overall it feels like a watered down, longer take on Goodfellas. The Irishman feels like sitting down with your old uncle from the city as he drinks a few night caps, and having him recount to you all of his old stories from when he hung around with the “tough crowd” in his youth. There are moments where you’re shocked he’d admit these things. There are times where you wonder how the family dealt with all of it. There are even times when you want to know more details but are afraid to ask. But as he goes on, the exciting elements begin to dwindle and it becomes harder to imagine your old uncle as this youthful hard ass.

The Irishman is a great film, and it’s worth a go around at least once. It’s what you’d expect from Scorsese at this point in his life looking back at the world of mobsters. But the biggest thing to take away from it is the fact that if his name weren’t attached, the film wouldn’t mean a thing. It’s something that gets the attention because it’s Scorsese and De Niro and Pesci and Pacino. But otherwise, it’s not much.

Rating: B

The Irishman is currently streaming on Netflix. Keep following Poor Man’s Spoiler throughout the week as we look at more Oscar Nominated Films. And be sure to Catch the 92nd Annual Academy Awards this Sunday at 8pm on ABC.

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The Irishman Poster
Image via Netflix
Written by Alex Lancaster
(Alex is a life long film fan, and has dedicated his life to watching, making and obsessing over films. His favorite film is Big Fish, and he despises Avatar. He has a 5 year old son. And a bad habit of saying more than he needs to. Follow @alex5348 on Twitter)

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