What The Rotten Tomatoes Reviews Are Saying About The Irishman
- Published: 01 October 2019
- The reviews for Martin Scorsese's The Irishman are in, and they're about as fantastic as reviews can get. Based on Charles Brandt's 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman stars Robert De Niro as former mafioso and alleged hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, who details the dirty deeds he did while working for the Bufalino crime family. And there's particular focus on his involvement in the disappearance and purported murder of International Brotherhood of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino.
The Irishman had its world premiere at the 57th New York Film Festival on September 27th, 2019, when critics fell head over heels for it. As of September 30th, The Irishman stands at a flawless 100 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Writing for IndieWire, Eric Kohn said of the legendary director's latest,
"It takes less than five minutes to establish The Irishman in Martin Scorsese's unmistakable voice...The mood is at once taut and funny, the essence of Scorsese's ability to humanize the mob as prickly macho men just a few notes shy of lovable. In that fundamental disconnect — between endearing people and the psychotic world they represent — the movie presents a fascinating onramp to America's obsession with organized crime."
Kohn added that The Irishman is bursting with "Scorsese's trademark style" and proves that the director is, quote, "more alive than ever." At The Movie Minute, Joanna Langfield wrote,
"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. [...] 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."
J. Don Birnam at Splash Report says that there's more to The Irishman than meets the eye, writing,
"As with everything Scorsese touches, The Irishman is plenty more than just a criminal's biography. Like many of his other films, it is a reflection on human nature, on whether and how greed, loyalty, betrayal, and regret, drive a life. It is also, more fundamentally, an aging director's look back with nostalgia at his own work, at forgotten episodes in American history, and about the meaning not just of life but of humanity itself."
Slashfilm's Chris Evangelista called The Irishman a "funny, melancholy" masterpiece in his review, writing,
"This is not Goodfellas. This is not Casino. This is Scorsese at his most reflective, crafting a masterwork that finds the filmmaker reflecting on everything he's done, and what it's all amounted to. The results are breathtaking, and one of Martin Scorsese's very best films."
The stellar cast of The Irishman received high praise from critics, the vast majority of whom felt each star turned in career-best performances. Vulture critic David Edelstein was impressed by the major players in The Irishman, but was completely floored by Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino. Edelstein wrote in his review,
"I heard all sorts of huzzahs about Pacino — and he is wonderful — but it's Pesci who thrilled me to the core."
Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com wrote that The Irishman solidifies De Niro as, quote, "one of the great scene-stealing straight men" in film history, while Vogue's Taylor Antrim said that "Pacino is just a scenery-chewing riot as Hoffa."
AV Club's A.A. Dowd commended both Scorsese's direction and De Niro's enduring acting chops in writing that the filmmaker, quote, "brings out a subtle agony from De Niro one might have assumed the actor could no longer summon."
Stephanie Zacharek at TIME Magazine felt similarly, writing,
"De Niro gives his best performance in years, with zero mugging or scowling — his Frank is a man of action who's so busy doing bad stuff, he barely has time to think."
Some may be wary of The Irishman after hearing that it clocks in at a staggering 209 minutes, but most critics have promised that the hefty runtime is part of what makes the film so special. As The New Yorker's Richard Brody wrote,
"It runs a minute shy of three and a half hours, and I wouldn't wish it any shorter."
Brody certainly wasn't the only one who felt this way about The Irishman's runtime. At AV Club, A.A. Dowd said,
"This is a remarkably brisk three-and-a-half hours — Scorsese, at a ripe 76, still directs with the energy of a hungry young filmmaker, his command of montage yanking the audience forward from scene to scene."
Over at Vox, Alissa Wilkinson argued that, quote, "the near-bagginess of the film is part of its initial charm."
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