RELEASED: 8th November 2019
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
CAST: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jesse Plemons, Harvey Keitel, Kathrine Narducci, Domenick Lombardozzi, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jeremy Luke, Alesa Palladino, India Ennenga, J.C MacKenzie, Gary Basaraba, Jim Norton, Larry Romano, Jake Hoffman, Patrick Gallo, Barry Primus and Jack Huston
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $8m
The Irishman is an epic saga of organised crime in post-war America told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran, a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th century. Spanning decades, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organised crime: its inner workings, rivalries and connections to mainstream politics.
Martin Scorsese had a hell of a run last decade, starting with Shutter Island and ending it The Irishman, his twenty-fifth feature film, marking his return to the crime genre with his last being 2006’s The Departed. The film is an adaptation of Charles Brandt’s novel I Heard You Paint Houses, focusing on the life of Frank Sheeran, an elderly World War II veteran that recounts his life where he went from truck driver to hitman for the Bufalino crime family, as well as working for the powerful President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa. The film’s runtime might put a lot of people off from watching it (just shy of three and a half hours), but Scorsese makes sure that not a single frame is wasted as Frank narrates his life, from his time in World War II, to how his life intertwines with American crime and politics of the 60’s and 70’s. While Scorsese has been criticised previously for glamourising the violence and figures that inspired his crime dramas in the past, but here in The Irishman there’s a sombre tone throughout the film as we follow through this tale of death, loss, sin and regret to the point that in the last fifteen-twenty minutes of the film, there’s a sense of pity that concludes everyone’s journeys as the runtime is felt as the final act runs down to reflect on what it was all worth. I loved the way the story was structured with its narration, as there’s multiple flashbacks along with Sheeran in the ‘present’, which is wonderfully edited together by Scorsese’s long-time collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker. I also thought that the costume designs by Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson were great. With the exception of one scene involving a beatdown outside a grocery store, I thought the de-ageing technology was done well for the majority, though admittedly it took some getting used to (about ten-fifteen minutes), particularly with De Niro and Pesci. Robert De Niro gives a terrific performance as Frank Sheeran, a man that’s in the room where the action is happening but is mostly content sitting quietly in the background. Joe Pesci is also great as Russell Bufalino, though he has charm and seems likeable enough, there’s that certain air of menace surrounding him. Al Pacino chews the scenery up as Jimmy Hoffa, a figure whose charismatic and while we understand where he comes from and what he hopes to achieve, there’s moments where his pride and ego becomes his own worst enemy. The rest of the ensemble are great, from Harvey Kietel to Kathrine Narducci to Stephen Graham to Jesse Plemons to Ray Romano. Even with the runtime, I was completely engrossed in the film till the end and I think The Irishman is fantastic.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Upon getting in the car with Chuckie to go meet with Jimmy, Frank and Sally Bugs about sitting in the back seat of the car, your mind wonders whether this is because Frank wouldn’t allow himself to get jumped on in any scenario? Then as the scene plays out, it’s to sit with his friend one last time before the job has to be done.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “If I said it once, I said it a thousand times, I don’t care they’re Irish. I don’t care they’re Catholic. If there’s one person you can’t trust in this life, it’s millionaires’ kids.” – Jimmy Hoffa
DID YOU KNOW: Initially set up at Paramount Pictures, who was planning to release it domestically, as well as Media Asia, who picked up Chinese distribution, and STX Entertainment, who took international rights. After Paramount Pictures lost confidence in the film’s one hundred million dollar budget, in tandem with the departure of studio chief Brad Grey, it was put in turnaround, and Netflix acquired the rights.