Esther McCarthy reviews The Irishman and The Aeronauts
The Irishman (16) *****
Epic in scale and scope, rich and evocative in character and detail, The Irishman doesn’t waste a minute of its admittedly challenging 209-minute running time. It’s a story that shows one of our greatest-ever filmmakers at the top of his game.
The pleasure in Martin Scorsese’s latest is how much he gets right. There’s a clinical, confident coolness to how the director tells his tale. The much-talked about de-ageing of the characters is far less distracting than it may sound.
Adapted by screenwriter Steven Zaillian from the best selling novel by Charles Brandt, I Heard You Paint Houses, it tells the true story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) spanning four decades from the 1950s.
Following a couple of chance encounters, Sheeran gradually finds himself being drawn into the world of Russell Bufalino. Played with a sinister coolness by Joe Pesci, he is the head of the notorious Pennsylvania crime family, The Bufalinos.
As Sheeran becomes a more trusted killer and foot-soldier, Bufalino introduces him to one of the mob’s most powerful and feared kingpins. Jimmy Hoffa (a very good Pacino) whose Teamsters union is steeped in underworld connections, needs a right-hand man.
Referencing many periods of historical and social significance over the four decades it spans, The Irishman is a tale of corruption, greed and politics that builds into an instant classic, which ranks up there with Scorsese’s greatest films.
The Aeronauts (12A) ***
VISUALLY IMPRESSIVE but thin on story, The Aeronauts tells the tale of a pair of adventures who reach great heights, only to face peril as they struggle to get home.
Set in 1862, the movie centres on a meteorologist and a balloonist who embark on a risky challenge in the name of science. Eddie Reymayne plays real-life character James Glaisher, a man obsessed with the study of meteorology, who believes that the science of weather can make the world a better place.
He hires gung-ho balloonist Amelia Wren, a fictional character played by Felicity Jones, who would prefer to take to the skies than follow the conventions for women at the time.
Their plan is to go higher than any other balloonists ever have before, using this unchartered territory to prove or disprove various weather theories.
In doing so, they face serious problems - and when the balloon’s system fails due to ice and plunging temperatures, they risk never making it home alive. There is real drama and tension to the scenes in the sky, but the flashbacks on land are less effective.