The true story of mob hitman Frank Sheeran and the friendship he
shared with union boss Jimmy Hoffa that may have led to his death.
The Irishman (2019)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Steven Zaillian
Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano,
Harvey Keitel, Jesse Plemons, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Bobby Cannavale, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Domenick Lombardozzi
Based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor
(Al Pacino), Best Supporting Actor (Joe Pesci), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects
I think we can all agree that Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of all time. So, when I heard that he was finally getting one of his lifelong passion projects off the ground, I was interested. Then, the big news. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and even long retired Joe Pesci were cast in the lead roles. A mob movie directed by a king of the genre and starring several actors from many iconic mob films. At this point, I’m no longer curious, I’m pretty damn excited and giddy with anticipation. And, it was going to be released on Netflix! So, after setting aside the time needed for this admittedly long movie, I finally sat down and watched this astonishing movie.
I mentioned our three male leads in the beginning. And it is with them I’ll start my praise. Of the three, De Niro and Pacino have never been better. For years, these two have either phoned it in or picked terrible movies. The Irishman, however, showcases why these two are considered powerhouses in the industry. They both deliver phenomenal performances that harken back to their glory days. And as for Pesci, it’s like he never retired in the first place. Never have I seen an actor sink back into a role quite like he does. The other thing is the style. In Scorsese’s past mob epics, it almost felt like a celebration of the lifestyle. It was about men who loved and missed it. Again, The Irishman, however, goes for the opposite effect. Instead, we get a somber, realistic look at this lifestyle and the effects it has on the people involved. It’s equal parts beautiful and tragic. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a perfect film for me, though. The de-aging effects did throw me off. Yes, I got used to it as the film progressed. But, seeing actors with young faces while still moving with clearly much older bodies was a little off-putting.
The Irishman is Scorsese operating at his absolute best. And while the de-aging effects do hold it back from being a masterpiece, it’s pretty damn close. Pacino, De Niro, and Pesci all deliver outstanding performances. The style is mesmerizing. Basically, I absolutely loved this movie. If this is indeed the last time we ever see these icons on screen together, then bravo to them.
This sprawling gangster epic is kind of the antithesis of Martin Scorsese's usual gangster fare. It's not Goodfellas by any stretch of the imagination, and the world The Irishman paints is one where mob life is more damaging than glamorous. It kills your soul first. This film reunites Scorsese with Deniro and Pesci, and it's the first time Scorsese has worked with Al Pacino. The end result is an unforgettable confession of a man who claims he's the one who sent Jimmy Hoffa down with the fishes. But more so, it's the story of who Hoffa was and all the dangerous men who surrounded him. It clocks in at three and a half hours, so you might want to watch this in chunks.
Robert De Niro is Frank Sheeran, ex-trucker turned union boss after befriending Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Their friendship is the heart of the movie, but if you know anything about Hoffa, you know it won't last forever. Nobody knows for sure what happened to Hoffa, but this film does a good job of answering a lot of questions regardless of truth. The ensemble is incredible, though casting Anna Paquin in such a limited role seems misguided. It's incredible to see Joe Pesci as a mob boss again, and his chemistry with De Niro remains flawless. Pacino delivers his best work in decades, restraining himself for once and doing an honest portrayal of Hoffa. This is a film made for fans of gangster films above all, and I wouldn't recommend it to casual movie watchers. I think they'd just be bored.
The Irishman took over ten years to get made, and while the the final product isn't perfect, it's still a great movie that will no doubt make some waves come award season. I do think that the de-aging CGI is awfully distracting, but the great storytelling balances it out. It's a lot more subtle than Scorsese's past gangster works, and I think it works. I didn't want a remake of Goodfellas or Casino. I wanted something new, and Scorsese delivered exactly that.