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What the Rotten Tomatoes reviews are saying about The Irishman

Martin Scorsese has done it again. 

The reviews for Scorsese's The Irishman are in, and they're as fantastic as reviews can get. 

Based on Charles Brandt's 2004 memoir I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman stars Robert De Niro as former mafioso and alleged hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, who details the dirty deeds he did while working for the Northeastern Pennsylvania-based Bufalino crime family — with particular focus on his involvement in the disappearance and purported murder of International Brotherhood of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, played in the film by Al Pacino. 

The Irishman had its world premiere at the 57th New York Film Festival on September 27, when critics fell head over heels for it. As of September 30, The Irishman stands at a flawless 100 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with no indication of that score dropping before the flick hits select theaters for a limited run on November 1 and subsequently drops on Netflix on November 27. 

Here's what the Rotten Tomatoes reviews are saying about The Irishman

Scorsese is at his best

Critics agree that revered director Martin Scorsese is in top form with The Irishman — having assembled an absolutely killer cast featuring many of his longtime collaborators, beautifully brought to life the screenplay penned by Academy Award-winning writer Steven Zaillian, re-entered the world of gangster films with panache, and crafted a confident, engrossing movie that's difficult to resist. 

Writing for IndieWire, Eric Kohn said of The Irishman, "It takes less than five minutes to establish The Irishman in Martin Scorsese's unmistakable voice [...] The mood is at once taut and funny, the essence of Scorsese's ability to humanize the mob as prickly macho men just a few notes shy of lovable. In that fundamental disconnect — between endearing people and the psychotic world they represent — the movie presents a fascinating onramp to America's obsession with organized crime." Kohn added that The Irishman is bursting with "Scorsese's trademark style" and proves that the director is "more alive than ever."

At The Movie Minute, Joanna Langfield wrote, "Scorsese's mob epic demands and commands. Confident enough to play with traditional storytelling as well as cutting edge technology, this is thrilling work from artists at their prime [...] it's a marvel to watch the piece as a whole, with its shifting tones, laugh out loud funny breaks, and its sneaky, very human heartbeat."

J. Don Birnam at Splash Report wrote that there's more to The Irishman than meets the eye, and Scorcese's careful direction makes the film "one of the most enjoyable, well-made, and ultimately memorable movies of the season." His review reads in part, "As with everything Scorsese touches, The Irishman is plenty more than just a criminal's biography. Like many of his other films, it is a reflection on human nature, on whether and how greed, loyalty, betrayal, and regret, drive a life. It is also, more fundamentally, an aging director's look back with nostalgia at his own work, at forgotten episodes in American history, and about the meaning not just of life but of humanity itself [...] By the end of the pastiche of assassinations and parade of executions, some by slow motion, some by title card, The Irishman will be more than just another Scorsese gangster movie."

Slashfilm's Chris Evangelista called The Irishman a "funny, melancholy" masterpiece in his review, further writing, "This is not Goodfellas. This is not Casino. This is Scorsese at his most reflective, crafting a masterwork that finds the filmmaker reflecting on everything he's done, and what it's all amounted to. The results are breathtaking, and one of Martin Scorsese's very best films."

Stunning performances in The Irishman

The cast of The Irishman — which includes De Niro, Pacino, Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino, Ray Romano as Bill Bufalino, and more — received high praise from critics, the vast majority of whom felt each star turned in career-best performances. 

Vulture critic David Edelstein was impressed by the major players in The Irishman, but was completely floored by Pesci, who came out of retirement to reunite with his CasinoGoodfellas, and Raging Bull director Scorsese. Edelstein wrote in his review, "I heard all sorts of huzzahs about Pacino — and he is wonderful — but it's Pesci who thrilled me to the core."

Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com wrote that The Irishman solidifies De Niro as "one of the great scene-stealing straight men" in film history, while Vogue's Taylor Antrim said that "Pacino is just a scenery-chewing riot as Hoffa."

AV Club's A.A. Dowd commended both Scorsese's "patient and methodical" direction and De Niro's enduring acting chops in writing that the filmmaker "brings out a subtle agony from De Niro one might have assumed the actor could no longer summon." Stephanie Zacharek at TIME Magazine felt similarly: "De Niro gives his best performance in years, with zero mugging or scowling — his Frank is a man of action who's so busy doing bad stuff, he barely has time to think."

In her review, Collider critic Perri Nemiroff predicted that "you're going to be hearing a lot about Pacino and Pesci this awards season." She wrote, "De Niro, Pacino and Pesci are a dream team for tackling Frank, Russell and Jimmy's stories. Frank is no doubt the anchor of The Irishman, and De Niro deftly carries him through the film as tension builds, time passes and in-the-moment decisions are called into questions [...] Pacino relishes in Hoffa's larger than life persona and short temper while Pesci takes a strikingly different path with Russell's more reserved display of power and intensity."

Don't fret about The Irishman's lengthy runtime

Some may be wary of The Irishman after hearing that it clocks in at a staggering 209 minutes, but most critics have promised that the hefty runtime is part of what makes the film so special. As The New Yorker's Richard Brody wrote, "It runs a minute shy of three and a half hours, and I wouldn't wish it any shorter."

Brody certainly wasn't the only one who felt this way about The Irishman's runtime. 

At AV Club, A.A. Dowd said, "This is a remarkably brisk three-and-a-half hours — Scorsese, at a ripe 76, still directs with the energy of a hungry young filmmaker, his command of montage yanking the audience forward from scene to scene."

Over at Vox, Alissa Wilkinson argued that "the near-bagginess of the film is part of its initial charm." She continued, "And by the end, it becomes important. The Irishman's long arc (which involves the use of largely unobtrusive de-aging technology) means the film follows Frank and his associates long past when the movie usually ends, with triumph or failure. The film instead takes a distinct turn away from rat-a-tat plotting and revenge toward a frankly stunning, contemplative movement."

Added Karen Han of Polygon, "Scorsese is so adept at storytelling, and his cast is so unbelievable, that the film, which clocks in at 209 minutes — even longer than The Return of the King and Avengers: Endgame — barely feels its length."

The digital de-aging in The Irishman

On the subject of the digital de-aging in The Irishman — used to make De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino look decades younger – many critics agree that while it can briefly take viewers out of the film, the technology only adds to the story. 

TIME Magazine's Stephanie Zacharek wrote, "The de-aging is distracting at first: The actors' eyes look real, but their skin is just a tad rubbery and flat — now and then I had to stave off a PTSD flashback to Robert Zemeckis' Polar Express. But the special effects are hardly a deal breaker, and in the end they probably add to the movie's mythological vibe."

Mike Ryan at Uproxxx said that the de-aging is "the best I've seen so far," though he did admit that "you can see the imperfections" if you stare too intently. "But you do get used to it," he noted. "And the way I look at this is, well, this is the small price to pay to get all these actors together again to tell this story."

As always, these are but a select few reviews for The Irishman plucked from the Rotten Tomatoes vine. Audiences can decide for themselves how they feel about The Irishman when the film opens in a limited capacity on November 1, then drops on Netflix on November 27.