One of the most hotly anticipated movies of the fall finally debuted on Friday, when Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman held its press and industry screening ahead of its world premiere at the 2019 New York Film Festival. Immediately after the credits rolled on the three hour-and-a-half gangster saga, all of New York film Twitter flocked to social media to universally praise Scorsese’s latest effort. A large chunk of the acclaim centered on the three lead performances from Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.
“An instant Martin Scorsese crime classic that’s everything you want it to be, and more,” wrote The New Flesh host Brett Arnold. “De Niro’s best work in ages, Pesci lights up the screen, and Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa screaming about the Kennedys is the peak of cinema.”
Variety’s Kris Tapley echoed those sentiments. “I love THE IRISHMAN so much because it’s far more than another gangland notch on Scorsese’s belt,” he wrote. “ It’s an American epic concerned with profound moral decay and a lifetime’s festering regret. De Niro is sublime. Pacino is electric, with Pesci the calming foil. And it flies by!”
The film chronicles De Niro’s Frank Sheeran across generations, from his time as a World War II hero, to his emergence as a mob hitman who may or may not have been involved in the death of the notorious union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). A huge amount of the press surrounding the film has centered on the de-aging technology Scorsese used to make his actors look younger when the time period calls for it. Netflix—which produced the film—gifted Scorsese with a generous budget to help achieve the effect, and according to early reactions, it’s not nearly as distracting as one would think.
“The de-aging worked for me! Jarring at first, but you got used to it, and De Niro was good enough that it didn’t matter,” Decider’s Anna Menta wrote.
Reel Big Films’ Brent Goldman echoed those sentiments. “Three brilliant performances and the deaging was no problem at all,” he wrote.
Unfortunately, the rest of us will have to wait November 1, when The Irishman opens in select theaters. It starts streaming on Netflix on November 27.
Check out more early reactions below.