Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Film Review: The Irishman (2019)

Recently, I got a chance to check out a list by RT.com where the author examines the list of 2020 Oscar nominations based on how good and “woke” they are. Now, it’s an interesting read even though unlike some Canadian professors, I don’t think that the PC culture is the world’s biggest problems, as for example, not many koalas are on fire right now because of it (in my simpleton mind) Yet, one thing caught my eye the most. The article states for the movie the Irishman:

“Producers behind the movie tried to win over politically correct social media mobs before the flick’s release by talking up the story’s supposed takedown of “toxic masculinity."

Now, this is art, so we’re by default all correct in our views about practically anything related to it. However, the entire approach of the movie was something completely different to me. No, I didn’t see The Casino or Goodfellas as laden with toxic masculinity - even though, yes, there is a quote from one of the producers of The Irishman saying this. 
Of course, I saw both older films years ago and things tend to change in culture and society. That is why I can see how someone would label these movies as full of toxic masculinity in today’s perspective: again, it’s art so we’re all correct.

Instead, my experience of The Irishman was one of a very long and intricate story exploring only one topic: friendship. Instead of tough guys saying tough guy things, people in this film are generally courteous and forgiving - as much as possible for mobsters. The power they wield does not demand that they are angry or threatening.

For them, it’s akin to a second skin and only death can take that skin off. They invade countries and kill presidents. Yet, they also care about each other and often work desperately to save each other. When they kill one another, there's usually no malice. Even when the main character is approached by the FBI at the end of his life, he remains friendly. If the film is trying to say anything, for the life of me, I can’t find anything woke there (although, as senator Joseph McCarthy showed, if you look hard enough…)

Instead, for me, if there is a message in the film, it is that even mobsters are basically… well, people. Not breaking news, that's true, but good art rarely is or needs to be this.