Arts & Culture

The Irishman: Gangsters return to the big screen2 min read

A brilliant Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, and a digitally de-aged Robert De Niro are set to lead Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman to the Oscars in 2020.

Rating: 4.5/5

In his new masterpiece, Martin Scorsese reunites the unique trio of Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino. The Irishman is based on the non-fiction crime novel I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. It tells the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), real-life teamster, World War II vet, and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family.

At three and a half hours, The Irishman could be considered a long film to watch. With an often sinuously moving camera, the occasional breaking of the fourth wall, wicked wise-guy humour, and explosions of emotion, the movie is vintage Scorsese all over.

The film’s intended star is De Niro, but the de-ageing CGI used on the actor made his facial expressions lose some reality. This makes Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) the real star of the show.

The story of The Irishman begins when Sheeran starts his career as a casually corrupt truck driver. He soon rises to the position of mob enforcer. The mafia soon decides that Teamsters boss Hoffa is in serious trouble thanks to government investigations and his volatile temper. The mafia dispatches Sheeran to help him out, and maybe reel him in.

However, like Pacino, Hoffa is uncontainable. Hoffa’s fatal flaw is that he’s impulsive and erratic, and that’s what makes him a danger to his bosses. Pacino portrays that unpredictability brilliantly, at times taking daringly long pauses as he seems to search for a word, and sometimes exploding with aggressive emotion.

De Niro and Joe Pesci also give a good portrayal of their respective characters, who are far more controlled. The film’s finale resembles the end of The Godfather Part II.

Admittedly, while Scorsese is clearly enjoying himself, and entertaining us, he’s not pushing into any particularly new thematic territory. His original saga of mafia movies, Mean Streets, Goodfellas, and Casino, was precisely partitioned by class. If Coppola’s The Godfather examined crime as capitalism, Scorsese’s films provided the flowcharts, illuminating how someone went from entry-level wannabe, to middle-manager, to executive.

If you’re a cinephile, you like Scorsese, or you are obsessed with gangster movies, this movie is recommended. The Irishman will be available on Netflix from 27 November!


Watch the trailer for The Irishman below:

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