Early reactions are in for Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, and they're pretty much universally enthusiastic so far. The film is an ambitious one, even by Scorsese's standards, and chronicles the life of real-world hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran (Robert De Niro) as he goes from fighting during WWII to serving the Bufalino crime family and the famous labor leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), prior to his mysterious disappearance.
In order to do that, while allowing De Niro to play Sheeran throughout his life, Scorsese used CG de-aging techniques on his cast (which includes De Niro's Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino costar, Joe Pesci) that resulted in The Irishman's budget ballooning to upwards of $159 million. Because of its hefty price tag, the project had a hard time securing a distributor for several years, before eventually finding its way to Netflix in 2017. Now, two years later, The Irishman is all finished and hitting the festival circuit ahead of its theatrical and streaming release in November.
The first reactions to The Irishman are now online, following its premiere at the New York Film Festival. You can check out some of the spoiler-free responses below.
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 Evangelista (@cevangelista413) September 27, 2019
#TheIrishman is Scorsese’s version of “On the Waterfront” meets “The Godfather,” almost a swan song with an added layer of nostalgia for his own past work. The editing is particularly excellent and all three actors are strong #NYFF57 #NYFF— J Don Birnam @ NYFF (@jdonbirnam) September 27, 2019
Alright, more coherent thoughts on #TheIrishman to come in my review tonight but I’ll say this for now because I know people are curious about it: The de-aging worked for me! Jarring at first, but you got used to it, and De Niro was good enough that it didn’t matter.— Anna Menta (@annalikestweets) September 27, 2019
I wish I could take a photo in he dark of all these people on their phones doing twitter hot takes on #TheIrishman. Here’s mine: it’s middle of the Scorsese pack. Def more of a sober character study than classic tense mob thriller— Mara Reinstein (@MaraReinstein) September 27, 2019
#TheIrishman is TERRIFIC! The Holy Trinity of Mobsters—De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci all carry this 3.5 hr movie with ease and Oscar-worthy performances. De-aging works! Scorsese still has the energy of the 70's, and this film offers mafia action with reflective substance. pic.twitter.com/upCf9S4nTL— Seán Kelso (@SEANKELS0) September 27, 2019
The Irishman is powerful filmmaking. Something that ruminates on the end of things, and what feels like a living wake for Scorsese, De Niro, and Pacino’s era, their crime movies, and the legacy a life can leave to the world it shapes. #NYFF— David Crow (@DCrowsNest) September 27, 2019
THE IRISHMAN: al pacino ... oscar ?????— karen han (@karenyhan) September 27, 2019
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
Interestingly, these Irishman reactions are the opposite of the social media responses to Ang Lee's own upcoming de-aging experiment, Gemini Man. Whereas the initial tweets about that film emphasized its technical elements without saying much about its story and performances, most of The Irishman reactions focus on the acting by screen legends De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci, along with the adapted script from Oscar-winner Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List, Gangs of New York). The actual Gemini Man reviews have since painted a far more negative portrait of the film, describing it as an exercise in style over substance. By comparison, it sounds like the occasionally-wonky CG de-aging in The Irishman serves an otherwise fascinating, contemplative, and reflective narrative.
It's certainly good to hear that (so far) people think The Irishman turned out really well, considering how much could've easily gone wrong with the whole thing (between its difficult visual effects and the nearly three and a half hour runtime). Netflix will no doubt be pleased about this news too, in light of what they've already invested into making Scorsese's passion project a reality. The Irishman further gives the streamer its third serious contender in this year's awards season race, to go along with upcoming releases like Dolemite Is My Name and Marriage Story (both of which are generating similarly strong buzz following their festival showings).
Source: Various [see the above links]
- The Irishman (2019) release date: Nov 27, 2019