Film Review – The Irishman (2019)

Title – The Irishman (2019)

Director – Martin Scorsese (Silence)

Cast – Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Jesse Plemons, Ray Romano, Stephen Graham, Bobby Cannavale, Harvey Keitel

Plot – A decades spanning true story of Irish hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro), who over the course of many years worked for both the Bufalino crime family lead by patriarch Russell (Pesci), as well as close friend Jimmy Hofffa (Pacino), who mysteriously disappeared in the mid-70’s.

“You might be demonstrating a failure to show appreciation”

Review by Eddie on 22/11/2019

I’ll readily admit to the fact that on more than one occasion I feared for what The Irishman could become.

After what seemed like years of gestation, setbacks and industry murmurings, how on earth could the ever aging yet evergreen Martin Scorsese possibly pull of the most audacious films of his long standing career?

Well shame on me for ever doubting, as Scorsese biggest passion project yet The Irishman is both a stunning feat of modern day filmmaking technology and old school craft, as the crime genre kingpin creates a balancing act for the ages while allowing audiences from around the world one last ride with a gang of cinematic legends that here combine forces for what’s a fitting swansong to decades worth of hard work and generation defining roles.

Clocking in at a whopping 209 minutes, Scorsese and screenwriter Steven Zaillian’s adaptation of Charles Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses takes its time in telling the story of Robert De Niro’s Irish-blooded mob enforcer and hitman Frank Sheeran, as we follow his 50 year plus journey navigating the ranks of the Bufalino crime family under the guidance of Joe Pesci’s patriarch Russell, while also illuminating Sheeran’s long-standing friendship with influential American teamster Jimmy Hoffa, played by a fired up and typically gusto Al Pacino.

By utilising cutting edge de-aging effects, Scorsese and his tech team have managed to allow for these screen legends to be there for every moment of their characters screen time and while at first it’s a little off-putting seeing these esteemed figures in such a way, but before long The Irishman will have you wrapped up in its web of friendships, betrayals and life musings and the scarily well done CGI work will become a part of the scenery.

It’s no mean feat that this works so well, but Scorsese is perfectly in-tune with this tale and thanks to this The Irishman very quickly establishes itself as a very different mob movie to the one people perhaps expected as it increasingly steers further and further away from the frantic Goodfella’s and the over the top Casino to become a meditative examination of the organised crime world that is more interested in asking the hard questions of mortality, family and growing old than it is delivering action or polished shootouts.

All aged well past their 60’s, The Irishman is reflective of those that inhabit its world both in front of the camera and behind it but it’s not to say the men of this film aren’t up for the challenge with everyone bringing their A-game to a film that feels like the perfect clashing of time, place and people.

As good as they’ve been in years, De Niro and Pacino wind back the clock in magnificent fashion here, both delivering considered and restrained awards worthy turns, while the much-missed Joe Pesci quietly walks away as the films MVP, in what becomes the performance of his career as Bufalino, a man very far removed from Tommy DeVito or Nicky Santoro.

While quietly spoken throughout and barely raising a sweat, the subtle nature of Pesci’s performance here stands out as one of the highlights of Scorsese’s bladder testing epic, an epic so well put together, so full of memorable dialogue wonderfully played out by a cast one could only dream of that you can’t help but sit back and savour the chance to see master’s at work, for could well be one of the last times.

Final Say –

A stunning ode to old school filmmaking and storytelling that molds together seamlessly with modern day technical marvels, The Irishman is a mob movie unlike any other. Featuring an array of top-notch performances from some of cinemas most revered figures as an added bonus, Scorsese’s most ambitious project yet has overcome the odds to instantly become one of modern cinemas greatest singular events.

5 watermelons out of 5

12 responses to “Film Review – The Irishman (2019)

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