Ok, I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated by the length of this thing (3 & a half hours) – I think Martin Scorsese has created some of the most iconic films of the last 50 years or so (Taxi Driver is one of my favorite films of all time) and I wasn’t quite sure how to watch it. I didn’t want to break it up because that’s not how he meant it to be viewed, but after having difficulty blocking out the time to view it in its entirety, I resigned myself to the reality that I might have to watch it in segments. I just didn’t want to keep putting it off.
Last night I sat down and started it, and let’s just say that 3 and a half hours later it ended. It could have been one hour for all I knew, it was just absolutely mesmerizing. This is a very easy to watch movie that is very, very deep. All artists have trouble squaring that circle – it’s either deep and difficult to take in or easy to watch without a lot of substance. Scorsese nails both so effortlessly that you’re not even aware of what’s happening.
The performances by Deniro, Pesci, and Pacino are the work of artists at the top of their game – it just so happens that Deniro and Pesci are 76 and Pacino is 79. As someone who is struggling with aging, this is very, very cool (Scorsese was 76 during filming). It is generally accepted that most artists best work happens when they are young, so it’s nice to see irrefutable proof that this isn’t always the case (Note: George Miller was 70 when he shot his apocalyptic feminist action masterpiece “Mad Max: Fury Road“ in the Namibian desert).
It’s probably no surprise to state out front that this film is probably not about what you might think. If the storyline and historical context might not seem that interesting to you (Jimmy Hoffa?), well, trust me when I say it’s a very human story that just happens to take place with these particular characters at this particular moment in time.
It’s a film that dares to look at mortality in a realistic way (hint: the opening and closing shots take place in a nursing home).
Here’s the reality: We’re all fucked up but trying to do the right thing, and we’re all brave and scared at the same time. We’re all born into this beautiful mess and struggle to figure it out and do our best, forging alliances along the way, inevitably leaving damage in our wake as we stumble through life.
And, at the end of the day, we all die alone, trying to make sense out of something that’s beyond our understanding.
It is what it is.