Review of Netflix film The Irishman: A rambling masterpiece and a must-watch | IWMBuzz reviews the Netflix film The Irishman and here is what Subhash K Jha feels after watching it.

Review of Netflix film The Irishman: A rambling masterpiece and a must-watch

Starring Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Jo Pesci

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Rating: **** (4 stars)

 It is not easy to sit through 209 minutes of this magnificent mobster-piece. After all we don’t love mobsters as much as Martin Scorcese who has had a life-long passion for the trigger-happy outcasts who for reasons of perverse pride and honour and subverted masculinity, love to shoot their victims in the face.

In the face of it, The Irishman is Scorcese’s final farewell to those   immigrant hitmen who ruled suburban America in the 1950s. It is a fabulous  farewell, seething with an unexpressed rage, brimming over with the director’s love for his outlawed characters and their family  affairs, all arranged in a spiral that threatens to tumble down in a rush any moment but miraculously manages to  stay in place.

The Irishman is not only Scorcese’s longest film, it is also his most verbose and emotional mobster movie. The last half an hour is in fact amongst the most brilliant portrayal of loneliness and approaching death that I have seen  in cinema. De Niro excels as a man who after a lifelong liaison with violence craves for his estranged youngest daughter to forgive him.

As the daughter Peggy, the brilliant child actress Lucy Gallina’s accusing eyes follows de Niro and the blood-drenched narrative, to their nemesis. In an epic film—and  let be known that this is  an epic work  of splattered art in the truest sense—chockful of accomplished  performances,  little Lucy Gallina’s Peggy becomes the moral compass that weighs the monstrous  misdeeds  of her father and his two associates, played with oscillating brilliance by  Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. These are two of the most brilliant American actors of all times whom we haven’t seen in a while. To see them get together with the God Of Histrionics De Niro is an experience of a lifetime.

We never feel the collective of their reputation. Scorsese uses this iconic trio strictly as characters. The socio-political dynamics of the 1960s and 70s are applied to the lives of this trio of mobsters with telling ferocity. The narrative lumbers forward at a pace that today’s generation of Scorsese followers would find challenging. The Irishman is a very wordy film.  There are long passages of conversation where the characters discuss violence and corruption so casually, we need to focus on the unstated punctuations between the lines to see where these heroes are heading to, and at what cost.

Finally to me, the brilliance of The Irishman is incumbent on the profound  relationship between violence and self-worth that the plot accentuates through the  characters’ aging passages. CGs knock off  40 years from De Niro, Pacino and Pesci. But the process is not an exercise in bravura. As we see these men plod violently from amoral middleage to their winter of discontent, a whole ethos of  the curdled American Dream passes by in front of our eyes.

 The Irishman is  not just a great film for  the performances (watch out for the little-known actress Marin  Ireland as De Niro’s eldest  daughter in the one sequence where she scoffs at her dad’s justification for being such a brutal householder), its keen eye for  period  detail (truly the Devil lies in the details) and its severely austere soundtrack, but also because like Scorcese’s best films on  mob blood like Mean Streets and Good Fellas, The Irishman shows us  the ultimate  nullity of men who  swear  by violence.

A pity, it takes so much bloodshed to get there. But the violent journey is worth every bit our time and patience. We may not love mobsters as much as Martin Scorsese. But we surely cannot help plunging deep into the lives of these uprooted sophisticated sociopaths who stop at nothing. And that’s where it ends for them. Nothing!!

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