THE IRISHMAN – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Okay, this is going to be a concise review of a very long movie. Three and a half hours long to be precise. It’s from Netflix who wants to win as many Academy Awards as possible, so they basically gave the great Martin Scorsese a blank check (or $175 million) to do this for them. So if you don’t choose to see it on the big screen in theaters with no bathroom breaks, that’s okay. You’ll be able to catch it at home on Netflix. Push pause, and get up to stretch your legs from time to time.
The Irishman tells the story of real-life mobster Frank Sheeran who was a young truck driver when he first met the people he would spend his life killing for. Or as they liked to call it, “painting houses.” This Martin Scorsese epic is based on the book Charles Brandt published in 2004, I Heard You Paint Houses. It’s Sheeran’s account of what happened leading up to Hoffa’s infamous 1975 disappearance. Several FBI agents, prosecutors, reporters, and criminals that knew Sheeran have debunked his story. However, truth be damned, in this director’s hands, it makes for exciting storytelling.
In The Irishman, we watch the story of organized crime in post-war America, as told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran ( Robert De Niro). He eventually became a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious crime figures of the twentieth century. Such as Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), Felix ‘Skinny Razor’ DiTullio (Bobby Cannavale), and Angelo Bruno (Harvey Keitel). Spanning decades, the film chronicles his take on one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history. The disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).
The film walks the hidden corridors of organized crime. Its inner workings, rivalries, and connections to mainstream politics. All the while playing some really great music of that time while the audience goes along for the ride. As a loyal member of the Bufalino crime family, Frank’s story is Martin Scorsese’s chance to do the kind of storytelling he loves. He even convinced Joe Pesci to come out of retirement to make this film.
For those people that are hardcore Scorsese fans of films such as Goodfellas and The Gangs of New York, then any problems I had with The Irishman will not keep you from going to see this movie the moment it opens in theaters. So here goes. What the movie got right was, the performances are solid, the excellent production value is fantastic, and the score and music is dead on. However, Scorsese chose instead of casting young lookalike actors to play the parts of the leads in their early days, to use De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino to play the roles instead. We do have the technology nowadays to take an older actor and make them look a bit younger. Unfortunately, this film needed these actors to appear decades younger. With Pacino and Pesci, it works pretty well, but their younger selves aren’t on screen as much as De Niro. When De Niro is playing the younger Frank, he reminds me of a character out of a video game. Something about his light-colored eyes, and all these wrinkles being smoothed away electronically doesn’t look natural. Add to that, he still is an older gentleman, and he moves like one. So even if the computer is painting him out to be in his late twenties, his movement belies his actual age. Also, for me, once Hoffa is killed, and the first initial blowback happens, the story just tends to just drag on.
For those two reasons, I give The Irishman an A- rating. And now, I’m going to go listen to songs from the film’s soundtrack again.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Steven Zaillian, from a book by Charles Brandt
Selig Rating A-
Running Time: min
Crime Drama / Biography
Limited Release: November 15th The Landmark Magnolia, Look Cinema, Studio Movie Grill and then on Netflix two week later
Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.