There has been a lot of hype surrounding the new Netflix film, The Irishman, over the last several months from word-of-mouth from the limited theaters that had hosted screenings to the film’s director’s battle of words with Marvel films and fans. In the end, The Irishman was released on Thanksgiving and lived up to the hype, mostly.
Martin Scorsese assembled a group of actors who have become synonymous with him and told an epic tale of mob life and crime. Based on the novel I Heard You Pain Houses by Charles Brandt, The Irishman follows truck driver turned hitman Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) as he ingratiated himself into the world of organized crime. Frank became very close to Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), head of the Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family.
Soon, Frank meets Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and becomes close with him as well.
Hoffa, of course, is the infamous Union head who disappeared in 1975 and was never found. There have been countless of theories over the years of what has happened to Jimmy Hoffa and this film is one of the more recent ones.
I have to say that the de-aging technology done on this movie was utterly brilliant. There was almost none of the tells that you some times see in other movies that try to de-age its actors. The only scene that was obvious was the “hand-breaking” scene and that was because Robert DeNiro had to physically assault someone and it clearly looked like an old man moving and kicking at his victim. That was the only time that the CGI pulled me out of the story and I wished they had used a body double for that one scene. Otherwise, the de-aging process was flawless.
And, without saying, the cast was unbeleivable. Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci (who came out of semi-retirement to do this role), Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Anna Paquin, Steven Graham, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale lead the massive ensemble. DeNiro was exceptional in the role, leading us through the narrative, first as an old man in a nursing home and then into flashbacks to tell the story. I enjoyed the structure of the film as well.
It was incredibly long but I did not feel it as much as I might had I been sitting in a theater. I paused it several times as I watched it on Netflix for lunch or restroom breaks etc. The film was a definite slow burn as it moved the story along at a snail pace, but the moments were filled with great story telling or character development.
I suppose the one major issue I had with The Irishman was that it lacked an emotional pay off. I was not deeply connected emotionally to the characters so when I discovered what the film said their fates were, it was like, yeah, okay, what is next. I think the storytelling, production and performances were masterful, it is just lacking that wallop of an emotional beat.
It does give a very clear message to how deadly the mob was. Every time we came across a minor character, we would learn at what point he would die and in what manner, whether it is shot in the head or whatever. That was very effective.
This is one of my favorite Martin Scorsese movies. It is one of the most Martin Scorsese movie in a long time. It was a really great film.