The Irish’: an exceptional film that culminates the style and obsessions of Martin Scorsese

October 9, 2019

To speak of Martin Scorsese is to speak of a unique, brilliant and, without a doubt, unrepeatable cinematographic legacy. From a compendium of pieces as extraordinary as they are varied that do not understand genres or tones; only from the purest cinema, delivered with devotion by the New York genius since his debut in the mid-1960s.

What the master’s cinema does understand is of its own style and obsessions, two of the most recurrent being spirituality and the mafia universe, which have given us so many joys in jewels such as ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ or ‘One of our own’ respectively, and which find their zenith in their perfect union in ‘The Irish’.

And it is that the last work of Marty’s good to date not only reflects the summary of an entire career and the maturation of a trade to perfection. In addition to this, ‘The Irish’ seems to be the materialisation of a dream of the Scorsese of twenty-few who studied at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York, and who has ended up offering us a new jewel with which to celebrate the existence of the seventh art.

I’ve heard that you film masterpieces

It is very difficult to try to condense in a text all the virtues that the bulky footage of ‘The Irish’ treasures, but it is rigorous to begin by praising without restriction the exemplary use of time as a narrative tool and the way in which its passage is represented, alternating epochs and verb tenses without the story suffering the slightest, for 210 fleeting and passionate minutes.

Of course, an achievement of this calibre can only be achieved with a form equal to the circumstances and, as might be expected, the septuagenarian Scorsese transforms its seniority into gold with a staging that could only be described as the best master class on direction we could receive, articulated through a sober classicism that is not afraid to innovate.

There is no doubt that ‘The Irish’ is a feature film that contains all the genetic code of its author elevated to the umpteenth power.

Once again, there is its intelligent use of the voiceover as the omniscient conductor of the story, its lucid dialogues, its delicious musical selection, its huge “tracking shots” or a sense of humour veiled among the most stark violence, one hundred percent brand of the house.

As I commented, academicism and all these common places are not at odds with an embrace of the new times represented by the infamous technology of digital rejuvenation; a resource that impacts – and even squeaks – in its first appearance on screen, but whose effect gradually disappears until it is diluted and fully integrated into the narrative.

This is thanks, in large part, to a dazzling cast no matter where you look, brimming with legends, and one in which the trio of Pesci, Pacino and De Niro stands out especially – to no one’s surprise.

Three giants whose interpretations

Digital masks apart, make possible a risky character study developed throughout an era of American organized crime. However, the festival of excesses, death, and violence that unfolds during the first two acts of ‘El irland├ęs’, more traditional and closely linked to the genre, lead to a third and final episode that links more with ‘Silencio’ than with ‘Casino’.

In this way, the director underlines the twilight character of his piece and underpins its devastating yet warm discourse on ageing, loyalty, remorse, duty and the fear of leaving no trace in this life.

Regarding the latter, Scorsese can be more than calm. Although he still has many “houses to paint” – let’s use him here as a synonym for shooting films – in his more than fifty years of active telling stories in images, Martin has already marked the retinas and hearts of the film collective with his existing work. The Irish’ is just the umpteenth reaffirmation that, the day he leaves us, an irreplaceable will go away.