The Irishman is an epic mob drama by the master mob dramas, Martin Scorsese. Here, Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) narrates, elaborating on his various dealings and connections with the mob and the notorious Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The sprawling three and a half hour film takes us within the mob underworld, Hoffa’s rise and unravels the mystery behind Hoffa’s disappearance.
De Niro, Pacino and Joe Pesci lead this film masterfully. The trio provides great chemistry and friction between their characters that keeps the film engaging. Their performances span decades of their respective characters, from young, eager men, raising and providing for their families in their own corrupt ways to older, slightly wiser and wearing their sins as heavy armor. The digital effects to take these actors in their seventies and make them appear much younger is done very well and does not feel awkward or fake like other film’s attempts. Moreover, it’s the little details in the way De Niro, Pacino and Pesci portray their characters at various stages in their life that makes their performances and characters to naturally believable.
Visually this film is a modern beauty. Each shot is thoughtfully constructed. The color pallets are rich and strike a mood and tone to each time period. Some of my favorite moments were the slow-motion shots, which seemed extra striking colorful. The moment in a crowd with everyone reaching for an assassins gun felt like a renaissance painting in motion.
While I adore the acting and cinematography of The Irishman, the story was lackluster for me. Perhaps I just found a lack of emotional connection. Besides Frank’s daughter Peggy, we don’t get much about how this mob life affects their families. Or perhaps it was just too long, I began to lose interest around the two hour mark. Even the second time I watched it, and I guarantee you I would not have given this movie another shot if it was not available for streaming. Thank you, Netflix. However, the last hour of the film really picks up some steam to the end.
The Academy has nominated The Irishman for an astounding ten Oscar awards. They include Best Picture, cinematography, adapted screenplay, costume design, production design, film editing and visual effects. Joe Pesci and Al Pacino are nominated for best supporting actor. And Martin Scorsese is nominated for best director for the ninth time.
Overall, The Irishman is a sprawling, epic, visually impressive and meticulously put together film. If you can find three and a half hours to spend with it, I do recommend you give it a watch. Especially if you’re into mob movies or stories about old, evil white guys who speak in code.
“I heard you paint houses.”