All great or extra-impact films say something that audiences recognize as truthful — things they’ve learned and accepted through their own travails, and which prompt a muttering of at least two things — (a) “Yup, that’s how it is, all right” and (b) “this movie knows what goes.”
The Social Network said that even cold-hearted geniuses have emotional needs and vulnerabilities. The Godfather, Part II said that close-knit families were drifting aport and falling into spiritual lethargy, especially given the fact that mafia karma is a bitch. High Noon says you can’t trust your fair-weather friends — only yourself. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold says that little people will always get squashed in the eternal battles between ruthless governments. Prince of The City says that you can’t purify your soul without ratting out your friends so live with your misdeeds. Shane says that being a gunslinger is a stain that can’t be erased. Sunset Boulevard says we all need to live in the present and that constantly looking back will kill you. North by Northwest says you can’t live a life of shallow, affluent diversion — that you have to man up and do the brave and noble thing. Raging Bull says that if you live like an animal, you’ll end up a lonely animal in a dressing room. Unforgiven says you can’t escape your basic nature, and that no one blows guys away like snarling Clint.
The Irishman says a lot of things, but the most profound takeaway is you can’t lie to your children or keep them at arm’s length. Well, you can but at your peril. Because old age, walking canes, Depends and death are just around the corner, and you might want a caring someone to talk to and hold your hand during the downswirl. Nobody gets out of life alive.
Consider the following capsule assessment of texasartfilm.net‘s Dustin Chase: “Two good performances and some technical wizardry doesn’t warrant [The Irishman‘s] excessive running time and crippled pacing. [For it] gives the audience very little to take with them or apply to their own lives.”
The natural, obvious, fall-on-the-floor response is “WHAT?” Followed by “what kind of a life has Dustin Chase lived?” God knows, but it hasn’t involved much in the way of mortal meditation. When I staggered out of that first Irishman press screening everyone was feeling gut-punched and gobsmacked by those last 30 to 40 minutes. An older actress friend had tears in her eyes.
And “two good performances”? Try 11 or 12, minimally — Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Stephen Graham, Marin Ireland and the wordless Anna Paquin are the stuff of instant relish and extra-level pulverizing. Not to mention Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Kathrine Narducci, Domenick Lombardozzi as “Fat Tony” Salerno, Sebastian Maniscalco as “Crazy Joe” Gallo, etc. Everyone in this film is perfect. The awareness that you’re watching actors giving performances goes right out the window almost immediately. You’re just there and so are they and vice versa.
“Excessive running time“? The Irishman feels like two, maybe two and a half hours, max.
“Crippled pacing”? Who is this guy?