New Delhi, Dec. 3 -- Every so often in Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, when we're introduced to a new character, text flashes on the screen with their name, year of demise, and cause of death. At first it seems like a very Scorsese joke, a reminder that the violent delights of association with the mob have violent ends. But looking back, those little epitaphs are a constant reminder of this movie's main preoccupation: mortality.

The Irishman would have made a fine straight-ahead mob film - and perhaps it would have turned out like that had Scorsese got to make it back in 2007. It tells, over 209 measured minutes, the story of Frank Sheeran, the man who might have killed the labour union leader Jimmy Hoffa, whose disappearance in 1975 rem...