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Welcome Scorsese's 'Haunting Masterpiece'

Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino shine in 'The Irishman'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2019 9:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – A legendary director joins with a trio of A-list actors in The Irishman, a Netflix film based on a 2004 book in which hitman Frank Sheeran confesses to dozens of killings in his work for the Italian mob—including that of Jimmy Hoffa. Now in theaters and debuting on Netflix on Nov. 27, it's Martin Scorsese's longest running film at 3.5 hours, but well worth sticking out, according to critics, who describe a masterpiece. Four takes:

  • "Many years have passed since a Scorsese movie found so much life in such small moments," writes Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune. Robert De Niro "does some of his cleanest, most affecting work" as Sheeran while Joe Pesci is "pulled out of retirement, thank God, to absolutely kill it every second." There's "wit and punch" to the writing, too, as the film "moves forward and backward and sideways, getting more unpredictable and compelling as it goes," Phillips writes.
  • The Irishman "may not be as groundbreaking as Mean Streets or Taxi Driver," but "Scorsese knows his audience and reputation so well that the film constantly plays with, and defies, expectations" as it offers "a sharp look at how corruption in politics and business makes its way into US life," writes Caryn James at the BBC. She applauds Pesci, but wasn't as taken with the aging effects in the film that spans five decades.

  • For Joe Morgenstern, the "astonishing" aging effects only add to the "haunting masterpiece." It "feels genuinely new and deeply satisfying—for its subtlety, wit and resonance; for its serenely confident technique … for the sumptuous quality of the production; and for the epic scope of the story," he writes at the Wall Street Journal. To boot, Sheeran "is a transfixing study—a generally amiable assassin who poses the question of whether you can sell your soul long after you lost or mislaid it."
  • It's not only an "unmissable crime epic" and "the movie event of the year," but Scorsese's "late-career masterpiece, a deeply felt addition that vibrantly sums up every landmark in his crime-cinema arsenal," writes Peter Travers at Rolling Stone. He says De Niro, Pesci, and Al Pacino all "hit career peaks," but De Niro is "monumental." His advice: "Prepare for fireworks."
(Read more movie review stories.)

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