The Irishman

Written by Michael Clawson

Elegiac and exceedingly well-acted, this is my kind of crime epic. The kind with all the explosions and executions you’d expect, but that’s as interested in the lines on its aging mobster’s faces, the simple pleasures they enjoy, their stubborn ways and petty grievances, as it is with the mechanics of their wheeling and dealing in politics and business. It made me think less of Scorcese’s own gangster movies than Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. The Irishman isn’t wistful in the same way that movie is because the Manson murder victims were innocent people, whereas Sheeran, Bufalino, and the rest are obviously not innocent – they’re brutal criminals. 

But the melancholy that comes from our knowing of the Manson victim’s tragic fate as we watch them go about their day is not unlike the effect of learning of these mobster’s demise as we meet them. They’re all going to end up killing each other, or in jail, and for what? Again, the pleasures they enjoy are simple ones: juicy steaks, ice cream sundaes, bread with grape juice, if not wine; things they need don’t money and power to have and share with their children, whose affection they struggle to earn. And on that note, the runtime is essential to shaping Frank’s relationship to his kids: the length enmeshes us in the mobster milieu and mindset, defined by its indifference to the life and death of others, which makes watching his daughters look at him with so much trepidation so unsurprising and poignant. And to think they don’t even know just how many guns their dad had to throw in the river.

The Irishman Trailer

The Irishman is currently streaming on Netflix.

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