“The Irishman” has made its highly anticipated debut at the 2019 New York Film Festival. The film from Martin Scorsese tells the story of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a mob hit man that claims to have been involved in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
Robert DeNiro stars as Frank, with Al Pacino playing the infamous Hoffa. The rest of the cast is just as noteworthy, including Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Ray Romano, Jesse Plemons, Harvey Keitel and more. It is a virtual who’s who of Scorsese and Academy Award alumni.
Robert DeNiro won his second Oscar for his role in Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” in 1980. DeNiro was also nominated for two of the their other collaborations, “Taxi Driver” and “Cape Fear.” In total, they have done nine feature films together and one short. Incredibly, this is the first time Martin Scorsese and Al Pacino have worked together.
The film was written by Steven Zaillian, who adapted it from the book by Charles Brandt. While the story has largely been dismissed as untrue, there have always been lingering questions about Sheeran’s account. Scorsese’s adaptation focuses on key moments throughout Frank’s life as he reflects on the events that shaped him.
While “The Irishman” won’t officially premiere until tonight, and official reviews are under embargo, writers at NYFF did share their initial reactions on Twitter. The reactions are overwhelmingly positive, with the only criticisms appearing to be mixed feelings about the de-aging effects.
Our own Joey Magidson was in attendance this morning and had this to say:
#TheIrishman is a modern American crime epic and one of #MartinScorsese’s most sprawling works. Seeing Robert De Niro and Al Pacino back at the tops of their games, together no less, is a gift, while Joe Pesci is just tremendous as well. The running time flew by. @TheNYFF #NYFF
— Joey Magidson (@JoeyMagidson) September 27, 2019
And our J. Don Birnam praised the director’s aptitude for character development:
#TheIrishman is enjoyable & conventional, Scorsese is always able to add a layer of emotional attachment to unlikable characters and he’s aware of the familiar nature of the characters to the audience, enough to add clever, light mockery to liven it up.A solid familiar film #NYFF
— J Don Birnam (@jdonbirnam) September 27, 2019
Others shared similar sentiments:
THE IRISHMAN, of course Scorsese comes out with a banger of a gangster movie at the tail end of the decade to show how new wave filmmakers how it's done, delivering the best of the crime genre of the 2010s. Lengthy yes, but damn it goes by so swiftly. JOE PESCI SUPPORTING! #NYFF
— Rendy Jones (@Rendy_Jones) September 27, 2019
THE IRISHMAN is a quintessential Scorsese epic that moves easily over three and a half hours without dragging. To be able to maintain that kind of pacing in such a long film is the sign of a true master 🙌
— Tia Glista (@tiaelisabeth) September 27, 2019
THE IRISHMAN is like a greatest hits album from a master of the medium. Yes, that’s a positive.
The artifice of de-aging is more feature than bug.
It’s not “slow.” It often moves like lightening & elsewhere it’s downright Bressonian.
This is not a review! Those are embargoed.
— erickohn (@erickohn) September 27, 2019
The Irishman is a melancholic mob epic. Funnier than expected, and gets better and better as it builds. Pacino truly steals the show, but Pesci and De Niro both are excellent. The deaging tech is mixed, but Scorsese is best there is at what he does
— Ben Yakas (@yenbakas) September 27, 2019
THE IRISHMAN is a masterwork. Funny, epic, and most of all, melancholy. It’s Scorsese confronting aging, legacies, and mortality. I may or may not have teared up at the end…
— Chris Evangelista (@cevangelista413) September 27, 2019
And Polygon’s Karen Han pondered awards prospects:
THE IRISHMAN: al pacino … oscar ?????
— karen han (@karenyhan) September 27, 2019
“The Irishman” is one of several projects coming from the Scorsese/Netflix collaboration. They will release it in theaters on November 1, following a streaming release on November 27.