the irishman

★★★★★

DIRECTOR: martin scorcese (good fellas, taxi driver, raging bull)
STARRING: robert de niro, joe pesci, al pacino, and anna paquin

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran gets involved with Russell Bufalino and his Pennsylvania crime family. As Sheeran climbs the ranks to become a top hit man, he also goes to work for Jimmy Hoffa - a powerful Teamster tied to organized crime.

Martin Scorcese loves to make a bladder buster. The only time when I thought I was literally gonna wet my pants in a cinema was during his underrated but absolutely magnificent film Silence. It definitely added to the tension. 

 

Sometimes when I see that a film has a long running time I wonder whether its really necessary and whether the film maker is just lazy and not willing to cut the bloat from their film. But in The Irishman every second is needed as we follow the life of Frank Sheeran in all its grit, guts, and glory. 

 

This biographical crime thriller follows Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) as he recalls his past years working for the Bufalino crime family. Now older, the WWII veteran once again reflects on his most prolific hits and, in particular, considers his involvement with his good friend Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance in 1975.

 

I love that Netflix allowed Scorcese to take his time with this film and story. For some with short attention spans and not necessarily an appreciation for story or cinema it will be too long. But it’s perfect. Absolutely perfect. It allows us to enter and explore the life of Frank Sheeran, fully and completely. 

 

Along with De Niro’s performance (which is sublime) we see Sheeran’s motivation, we understand his motivation and we ultimately witness the cost of his actions on his family, his relationships and his soul. Being a Catholic Scorcese, like Hitchcock, loves to explore in his films the ‘wages of sin’; the cost that a human being must pay for their actions. This is wonderfully encapsulated in the final scenes between Sheeran and his priest without diving into sentimentality or religiosity. 

 

Joe Pesci gives a tremendously reserved performance that is punctuated with so much power through the subtlety of his slightest actions. Pacino on the other hand is energetic, filled with pomp and power that explodes from the screen.

 

The Irishman is a return to Scorcese's roots and delivers a classic gangster epic with earth shattering performances from De Niro, Pesci and Pacino.

★★★★★

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