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The Irishman Is A Rambling Masterpiece

The Irishman(Netflix)

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’ve 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 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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