The first reviews for Scorsese's "enthralling, knockout" 'The Irishman' are here
The first reactions to Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, which brings together Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and more to tell the story of mob hitman Frank Sheeran, are here at last.
The consensus: two thumbs up for an unflinching, entertaining and unexpectedly morose story of regret, one and a half thumbs up for the de-ageing tech which leaves De Niro looking a bit like a dead-eyed shark at times.
The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney is full of praise, saying "a melancholy sense of looking back pervades the best parts of The Irishman, in which the elder statesman of organised crime in American movies, Martin Scorsese, reunites with his most totemic screen actor to tell a sprawling gangland saga that's by turns flinty, amusing, richly nostalgic and rueful."
Owen Gleiberman from Variety says it's a "coldly enthralling, long-form knockout" which functions as a "reckoning" from Scorsese, nodding at Goodfellas but making clear that life in the mob is "far more solemnly unromantic and toll-taking" than that film made it look.
Time's Stephanie Zacharek agrees, adding that after a fairly jolly opening two-and-a-half hours, "its last half-hour is deeply moving in a way that creeps up on you, and it’s then that you see what Scorsese was working toward all along: a mini-history of late-20th century America as filtered through the eyes of a smalltime guy who needs and wants to believe in his own importance and capacity for decency".
The de-ageing technology gets a slightly more mixed reception though, despite being broadly impressive. "There’s something undeniably jarring about its use, both in how at times it really works and how at times, it really doesn’t," says the Guardian's Benjamin Lee. "The film’s biggest, creepiest problem lies behind De Niro’s fortysomething eyes – or rather the film’s biggest, creepiest problem is that nothing lies behind them."
David Edelstein for Vulture says that the de-aged faces "don’t always match the voices and bodies," but says Pesci's performance is magnificent, "almost supernaturally focused and watchful, always hypersensitive to other peoples’ rhythms". "I thank the gods of acting that he came out of retirement to do this," he says.