The Irishman

2019  209 MN


The Irishman on IMDb
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Martin Scorsese

Pennsylvania, 1956. Frank Sheeran, a war veteran of Irish origin who works as a truck driver, accidentally meets mobster Russell Bufalino. Once Frank becomes his trusted man, Bufalino sends him to Chicago with the task of helping Jimmy Hoffa, a powerful union leader related to organized crime, with whom Frank will maintain a close friendship for nearly twenty years.

 Release Date

November 1, 2019


3h29m (209 min)


$ 159,000,000


$ 8,000,000

 Top Billed Cast

 Robert De Niro
 Frank Sheeran
 Al Pacino
 Jimmy Hoffa
 Joe Pesci
 Russell Bufalino
 Stephen Graham
 Anthony 'Tony Pro' Provenzano
 Ray Romano
 Bill Bufalino
 Harvey Keitel
 Angelo Bruno

 Written by

Steven Zaillian Screenplay
Charles Brandt Book


His story changed history



Robert De Niro
  Frank Sheeran
Al Pacino
  Jimmy Hoffa
Joe Pesci
  Russell Bufalino
Stephen Graham
  Anthony 'Tony Pro' Provenzano
Ray Romano
  Bill Bufalino
Harvey Keitel
  Angelo Bruno
Bobby Cannavale
  'Skinny Razor'
Anna Paquin
  Older Peggy Sheeran
Stephanie Kurtzuba
  Irene Sheeran
Kathrine Narducci
  Carrie Bufalino
Welker White
  Josephine 'Jo' Hoffa
Jesse Plemons
  Chuckie O'Brien
Jack Huston
  Robert Kennedy - RFK
Domenick Lombardozzi
  'Fat Tony' Salerno
Paul Herman
  'Whispers' DiTullio
Louis Cancelmi
  'Sally Bugs'
Gary Basaraba
  Frank 'Fitz' Fitzsimmons
Marin Ireland
  Older Dolores Sheeran
Sebastian Maniscalco
  'Crazy Joe' Gallo
Steven Van Zandt
  Jerry Vale
Lucy Gallina
  Young Peggy Sheeran
Dascha Polanco
Bo Dietl
  Joe Glimco
Aleksa Palladino
  Mary Sheeran
Daniel Jenkins
  E. Howard 'Big Ears' Hunt
Jim Norton
  Don Rickles
Billy Smith
  FBI Agent #1
Kevin O'Rourke
  John McCullough
Action Bronson
  Casket Salesman
Glenn Cunningham
Paul Ben-Victor
  Jake Gottlieb
Patrick Gallo
  Anthony 'Tony Jack' Giacalone
Jake Hoffman
  Allen Dorfman
Barry Primus
  Ewing King
Danny A. Abeckaser
Anthony J. Gallo
  Food Fair Manager
J. C. MacKenzie
  Prosecutor Jim Neal
Joseph Bono
  Frank Sindone
Louis Vanaria
  Dave Ferrie
Craig Vincent
  Ed Partin
John Polce
  Joe Colombo
Joseph Riccobene
  Jimmy 'The Weasel' Fratianno
Vinny Vella
  Meat Company Yard Manager
Thomas E. Sullivan
  Warren Swanson
John Cenatiempo
  Anthony 'Tony 3 Fingers' Castellito
Robert Funaro
  Johnny - Friendly Lounge
Jennifer Mudge
  Older Maryanne Sheeran
India Ennenga
  Young Dolores
Jordyn DiNatale
  Young Connie Sheeran
Kate Arrington
  Older Connie Sheeran
Philip Suriano
  Silver Shop Owner
Al Linea
  Sam 'Momo' Giancana
Garry Pastore
  Albert Anastasia
Frank Pietrangolare
  Bartender - Friendly Lounge
Frank Aquilino
  Friendly Lounge Guy 'Butchie'
Patrick Murney
  Peggy's Godfather
Samantha Soule
  Peggy's Godmother
Richard V. Licata
  Judge - Frank's First Trial
Vito Picone
  Villa Roma Manager
Craig DiFrancia
  Anastasia's Hitman #2
Paul Borghese
  Mobster #1 - Curtain Shop
Veronica Alicino
  Curtain Shop Staff #1
Mike Massimino
  Curtain Shop Staff #2
James Ciccone
  Anastasia's Mobster in Car #1
Ron Castellano
  Anastasia's Mobster in Car #2
Marco Greco
Meghan Rafferty
  Bill Bufalino's Wife
James Lorinz
  Hoffa's Rally Teamster #1
Robert C. Kirk
  Hoffa's Rally Teamster #3
Rebecca Faulkenberry
  Barbara Hoffa
John Rue
  Senator McClellan
Steve Routman
  Hoffa's Attorney - George Fitzgerald
Matthew F. O'Connor
  Pro Rally Teamster #1
Cliff Moylan
  Pro Rally Teamster #2
Steve Beauchamp
  Pro Rally Teamster #4
Alfred Sauchelli Jr.
  Trucking Company Owner
Diana Agostini
  Ice Cream Shop Patron #1
Lauren Aparicio
  Ice Cream Shop Patron #2
John Garrett Greer
  Ice Cream Shop Staff #2
Jack Caruso
  Swanson's Booking Detective
John Scurti
  Bertram B. Beveridge
Steve Witting
  Judge William Miller
Brent Langdon
  Judge Frank Wilson
Frank L. Messina
  Tony Pro's Guy #3
Cilda Shaur
  Colombo's Wife
Dominick LaRuffa Jr.
  Colombo's Son #1
Erick Zamora
  Colombo's Son #2
Lou Martini Jr.
  Copa Guest #3
John Bianco
  Copa Guest #5
Margaret Anne Florence
  Gallo's Wife - Sina
Siena Marino
  Gallo's Daughter - Lisa
Logan Crawford
  Reporter at Prison
Blaise Corrigan
  Dave Johnson
Jill Brown
  Dave Johnson's Wife
Matt Walton
  TV Host - Moderator
Peter J. Fernandez
  NAACP President Cecil Moore
Stephen Mailer
  District Attorney Emmett Fitzpatrick
Michael Romeo Ruocco
  Casino Photographer
Anne Horak
  Golddigger Dancer #2
Nina Lafarga
  Golddigger Dancer #8
Clark Carmichael
Joseph Russo
  Bruno Denzetta
Jeremy Luke
  Marco Rossi
Mario Corry
  Wedding Wise Guy #2
Patrick Borriello
  Wedding Wise Guy #5
Alfred Nittoli
  Inmate Alfredo
David Aaron Baker
  Assistant US Attorney
Stanley Burns
  Colonoscopy Doctor
Bill Timoney
  Prosecutor - Frank's 2nd Trial
Virl Andrick
  Judge - Frank's 2nd Trial
Bill McHugh
  Funeral Priest
Kevin Kane
  FBI Agent #2
Amelia Brain
  Sales Girl at Crypt
Craig 'Radioman' Castaldo
  Man in Wheelchair
Jacqueline Kennedy
  Herself (archive footage)
John F. Kennedy
  Himself (archive footage)
Fidel Castro
  Himself (archive footage)
Michael Iacono
  Bowler (uncredited)
Ashley North
  Mob Wife (uncredited)
Dean Ciallella
  Italian Rally Supporter (uncredited)


Rodrigo Prieto
  Director of Photography
Robert De Niro
Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
Eugene Gearty
  Supervising Sound Editor
Eugene Gearty
  Sound Re-Recording Mixer
Ellen Lewis
Steven Zaillian
Jane Rosenthal
Thelma Schoonmaker
John A. Machione
  Unit Production Manager
Laura Ballinger
  Supervising Art Director
Nicholas Pileggi
  Executive Producer
Sandy Powell
  Costume Designer
Irwin Winkler
George Furla
  Executive Producer
Randall Emmett
Tod A. Maitland
  Sound Mixer
Rick Yorn
  Executive Producer
Randall Poster
  Music Supervisor
Richard Baratta
  Executive Producer
Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Marko A. Costanzo
  Foley Artist
Robbie Robertson
  Original Music Composer
Robbie Robertson
  Executive Music Producer
David Webb
David Webb
  First Assistant Director
Carla Raij
  Unit Production Manager
Christopher Peterson
  Costume Designer
Chad A. Verdi
  Executive Producer
Regina Graves
  Set Decoration
Jai Stefan
  Executive Producer
Nicki Ledermann
  Makeup Department Head
G. A. Aguilar
  Stunt Coordinator
G. A. Aguilar
  Second Unit Director
Niko Tavernise
  Still Photographer
Marianne Bower
David Davenport
  Costume Supervisor
Joel Weaver
  Property Master
Philip Stockton
  Supervising Sound Editor
Jessica Lichtner
  Script Supervisor
Pablo Helman
  Visual Effects Supervisor
Jeff Brink
  Special Effects Supervisor
Tom Fleischman
  Sound Re-Recording Mixer
Lukasz Jogalla
  Second Unit Director of Photography
Troy Allen
Bob Shaw
  Production Design
Victor Paguia
  Stunt Coordinator
Mitchell Ferm
  Visual Effects Producer
Charles Brandt
Niels Juul
  Executive Producer
Tyler Zacharia
  Executive Producer
Sean Flanigan
  Hair Department Head
Gastón Pavlovich
Nelson Sepulveda
  Compositing Supervisor
Jeremy Marks
  Second Assistant Director
William O'Leary
Leandro Estebecorena
  Visual Effects Supervisor


 New Quote


 New Review

By Jack Anderson on December 7, 2019

As an admirer of Martin Scorsese, I couldn't wait to see The Irishman. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci? Shut up and take my money!
Finally, I was able to see the film. From the very first minutes, I felt odd.

Running at 3 hours and 29 minutes, I am sad to say that the film not only is long but feels long. I have no problem watching Titanic, even though it's 3 hours and 15 minutes long, because it is very entertaining – at least to me.
Here, sitting through those 3.5 hours was difficult, very difficult. To such an extent that I thought, "Hey, I'm watching a 3.5 hour film on Netflix, how many episodes would that be?". Well, if you divide the film by 43 minutes, you'd almost end up with 5 episodes. Much easier to go through.
When asked about the idea, Martin Scorsese said it did not even cross his mind and that the film was definitely not intended as a series. Okay. Still, you got to throw a bone to the audience.

The problem is, when you have a movie that long, you have to keep the audience interested. Surely, many scenes are compelling, but there is a point, actually from the beginning, where you simply are waiting for something big to happen, and it never happens.

Not only that, but you can see that Scorsese had such a big budget. Many scenes that could have been thrilling only take a couple of seconds. The taxis exploding? Bang!, moving on. Those are almost cutaway scenes.

What I especially liked in the film is the way the violence was depicted. We are so used to have violence as this frightening other world so dark that we don't even care for it. Here, once again Martin Scorsese is finding a brilliant way to show violence, in the most realistic way. When De Niro's character goes against the man who pushed his daughter, this was almost unbearable to see, and it's nothing compared to all the epic fights you could see in a PG13 film. I just loved the "messiness" of the action.

Obviously, Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci are giants. The saga is told in a bright way and everyone does a great job. But again, I was not entertained.

Finally, the theme came across. The theme is that you are the result of what you do. No one is good or bad, but your actions tell the story of your life. In this case, Robert De Niro's character lost what is the most precious to someone. His own daughter. I found particularly interesting to watch her watching and knowing all about her father's actions. And when he finally arrives are the end of his life, he has nothing to show for himself. Which brings me to the question his daughter asks him on that fateful day when he killed Jimmy Hoffa.


I give it 4 out of 10. A great attempt to tell a message, but an extremely boring one.


It would almost be wrong to call ‘The Irishman’ a film; rather, it acts more like a tapestry. This isn’t telling one story, but a number of stories spanning decades that just so happen to involve the same group of dangerous gangsters, sharing the same threads of beautiful cinematography, great visual effects and patient editing. With his increasingly lengthy run times, Scorsese seems to be realising that a life cannot be condensed down into a clean 100-minute arc, and audiences should get excited by the opportunity to experience the art of film in this way. It’s a sight to behold.
- Ashley Teresa

Read Ashley's full article...

Stephen Campbell

**_Far too long, but arguably Scorsese's most thematically complex_**

>_Don't let any man into your cab, your home, or your heart, unless he's a friend of labour._

- Jimmy Hoffa

>_When Jimmy saw that the house was empty, that nobody came out of any of the rooms to greet him, he knew right away what it was. If Jimmy had taken his piece with him he would have gone for it. Jimmy was a fighter. He turned fast, still thinking we were together on the thing, that I was his backup. Jimmy bumped into me hard. If he saw the piece in my hand he had to think I had it out to protect him. He took a_ _quick step to go around me and get to the door. He reached for the knob and Jimmy Hoffa got shot twice at a decent range – not too close or the paint splatters back at you – in the back of the head behind his right ear. My friend didn't suffer._

- Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, with Charles Brandt; _"I Heard You Paint Houses": Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa_ (2004)

>_In 2004, a small publishing house in Hanover, New Hampshire, unleashed a shocker titled I Heard You Paint Houses. It was written by Charles Brandt, a medical malpractice lawyer who had helped Sheeran win early parole from prison, due to poor health, at age 71. Starting not long after that, Brandt wrote, Sheeran, nearing the end of his life, began confessing incredible secrets he had kept for decades, revealing that – far from being a bit player – he was actually the unseen figure behind some of the biggest mafia murders of all time._

>_Frank Sheeran said he killed Jimmy Hoffa._

>_He said he killed Joey Gallo, too._

>_And he said he did some other really bad things nearly as incredible._

>_Most amazingly, Sheeran did all that without ever being arrested, charged, or even suspected of those crimes by any law enforcement agency, even though officials were presumably watching him for most of his adult life. To call him the Forrest Gump of organised crime scarcely does him justice. In all the history of the mafia in America or anywhere else, really, nobody even comes close._

- Bill Tonelli; "The Lies of the Irishman"; _Slate_ (August 7, 2019)

>_I'm telling you, he's full of shit! Frank Sheeran never killed a fly. The only things he ever killed were countless jugs of red wine._

- John Carlyle Berkery; Quoted in "The Lies of the Irishman"

>_I haven't read the script of The Irishman, but the book on which it is based is the most fabricated mafia tale since the fake autobiography of Lucky Luciano 40 years ago._

- Nicholas Gage; Quoted in "The Lies of the Irishman"

_The Irishman_ is 209 minutes long and spans 60 years (1944 to 2004), taking in such events as the end of World War II in 1945; the 1957-1964 feud between Senator (later Attorney General) Robert F. Kennedy and Jimmy Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; the election of John F. Kennedy as President in 1960; the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961; the assassination of JFK in 1963; the election of Richard Nixon as President in 1968; the Watergate scandal from 1972 to 1974; and Nixon's resignation in 1974. All of this historical context, however, is mere window dressing, and at no time is it where the film's focus lies. Instead, _The Irishman_ is about aging, loss, taking stock, regret. To a certain extent, it is to the gangster genre what John Ford's _The Searchers_ (1956) was to the classic western.

Based on the 2004 book by Charles Brandt, _"I Heard You Paint Houses": Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa_, _The Irishman_ was written for the screen by Steven Zaillian (_Schindler's List_; _A Civil Action_; _American Gangster_) and directed by Martin Scorsese (_Taxi Driver_; _The Last Temptation of Christ_; _The Aviator_), whose _GoodFellas_ (1990) and _Casino_ (1995) are two of the most celebrated gangster movies ever made (although, I think I'm the only person on the planet who dislikes _GoodFellas_; I love _Casino_ though). An old-school auteur in the mould of filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Michael Mann, Terrence Malick, and Oliver Stone, Scorsese, Malick, and Mann are three of the very few such filmmakers who remain as relevant today as they were when they first broke into the business. I personally haven't really liked much of what he's done in the last couple of decades, but there's no denying Scorsese is a filmmaker who still seems to have a lot to say.

_The Irishman_ has received a rapturous reception, with critics and audiences proclaiming it as one of Scorsese's best movies. And although I certainly don't disagree that it has (many) masterful elements, but it's just too blooming long, taking far too much time to get to the last act (which is superb). Shorten it by 20 minutes in the mid-section, and you have a masterpiece. Now, don't get me wrong, I have no problem with long films – Coppola's _The Godfather Part II_ (202 minutes) is one of the finest films ever made; three of my all-time favourite movies are the Director's Cuts of Sergio Leone's _Once Upon a Time in America_ (250), Kevin Costner's _Dances with Wolves_ (236), and Malick's _The Tree of Life_ (190); I adore Kenneth Branagh's _Hamlet_ (242), and I'm a big fan of films such as Jerzy Hoffman's _Potop_ (315), Bernardo Bertolucci's _1900_ (317) and Béla Tarr's _Sátántangó_ (442...yep, 442). However, such length has to be narratively justified, and I just felt that in _The Irishman_, it wasn't. A runtime of around 170-180 minutes would have been perfect, but as it stands, the film's 206 minutes occasionally feel padded and (dare I say it) self-indulgent. Nevertheless, the acting is universally superb, the directing is more contemplative than we've seen from Scorsese in a while, Thelma Schoonmaker's editing is predictably awesome, and Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography is flawless. If only it was 20 minutes shorter.

The film opens in 2003 as we meet an elderly Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro). A World War II veteran who was stationed in Italy, Sheeran now lives in a nursing home and is close to death. Wanting to die with something of a clear conscience, he decides to speak about his time as the go-to hitman for the Northeastern Pennsylvania-based Bufalino crime family. We then cut to 1975 as Sheeran, family patriarch Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), and their wives are embarking on a three-day drive to attend a wedding. As they pass by the spot where Sheeran and Bufalino first met, we cut to 1954, with Sheeran working as a truck driver for a slaughterhouse. Although, he has a reputation for reliability, on the side, he's selling more than a little of the meat to Felix "Skinny Razor" DiTullio (Bobby Cannavale), a wiseguy working for the Philadelphia and New Jersey-based Bruno crime family led by Angelo Bruno (Harvey Keitel), an ally and friend of Russell. When Sheeran sells the entire contents of his truck, however, turning up at the delivery location with an empty storage, the company charge him with theft, but he's successfully represented by Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano), Russell's cousin. Sheeran and Russell become good friends, and soon, Russell has Sheeran carrying out various hits. Loyal to the Bruno and Bufalino families, and adept at his job, Sheeran quickly moves up the underworld ladder, and Bufalino introduces him to Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The president of the Mob-funded Teamsters union, Hoffa is facing investigation by the United States Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management and is struggling to deal with rising teamster Anthony "Pro" Provenzano (Stephen Graham). Hoffa is volatile, unpredictable, confrontational, and believes himself untouchable, so Bufalino wants Sheeran to babysit him and try to keep him out of trouble. Hoffa and Sheeran hit it off, and soon Sheeran is Hoffa's unofficial bodyguard. However, despite Sheeran's best efforts, as the years go by, Hoffa continues to antagonise his Mob backers, and some of them soon come to see him as more of a liability than an asset.

Originally set at Paramount, when _The Irishman_'s budget started pushing $150m before shooting had even begun, the studio deemed the project too expensive and dropped it. Then came Netflix, who not only put up the money, but they also offered Scorsese a near unheard-of degree of creative control – the kind of control that almost no one person has been given over a project this big since Michael Cimino pissed away $44m ($115m in today's money) of United Artists' money on Heaven's Gate (1980), a film originally budgeted at $11.6m, and which earned back only $3m at the box office, ending the _auteur_-driven New Hollywood era, nearly bankrupting UA, and fundamentally altering the way movie studios did business. Netflix's involvement with _The Irishman_ is an interesting situation because here you have a film that simply could not have been made through the modern studio system (at least not in its current form). Netflix is usually derided for their purchase of movies originally intended for theatrical release, which are then packaged as "Netflix Originals", with many predicting that streaming services will ultimately destroy the cinema industry entirely. As with many such films, _The Irishman_ was given a limited theatrical release to ensure it qualified for Oscar consideration (Netflix _really_ to have a Best Picture winner in their catalogue). However, disgruntled about there being only a three week gap between theatrical release and streaming debut, major cinema chains such as AMC, Cinemark, Regal, and Cineplex all refused to carry it, with AMC's Adam Aron stating they would only be open to showing the film if Netflix "_respects the decades-old theatrical window, that suggests that movies come to theatres first for a couple of months, and then go to the home._" For all that, however, it's hard for a lover of cinema not to celebrate Netflix stepping in to save such an ambitious and artistic film, to say nothing of the unprecedented control they gave Scorsese. It was a great PR move, sure, but it was also a massive financial risk, so you really can't condemn their involvement.

Looking very briefly at the real-life background of the film's narrative, most historians today dismiss Sheeran's account of how important he was to the Bufalino family, and several of his claims have been proven as fabrications (for more information on this, see Bill Tonelli's August 2019 article "The Lies of the Irishman" for _Slate_ and Jack Goldsmith's September 2019 article "Jimmy Hoffa and The Irishman: A True Crime Story?" for _The New York Review_). Nevertheless, the film uses Sheeran's book as the main source for the story, so it's best just to put the many historical embellishments to the back of your mind. Aside from killing Hoffa, some of Sheeran's most flamboyant claims include killing Joe Gallo, delivering a truckload of weaponry to soldiers preparing for the Bay of Pigs Invasion (handing the truck over to E. Howard Hunt, no less), giving a bag containing three rifles to a pilot days before Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy, and delivering a suitcase containing a $500,000 bribe to Attorney General John N. Mitchell to pass on to Nixon. Historians, however, tell us he did none of these things, maintaining that he was a low-level goon with a drinking problem who was never assigned to any important task. This has been corroborated by several former Mob bosses who knew Sheeran. According to Tonelli,

>_not a single person I spoke with who knew Sheeran from Philly – and I interviewed cops and criminals and prosecutors and reporters – could remember even a suspicion that he had ever killed anyone._

So, either he was the greatest and most clandestine Mob hitman of all time, or he was full of shit.

Irrespective of this, however, _The Irishman_ is a film written in regret. Scorsese has often been accused of making Mob recruitment films, and it's well-known that real-life gangsters love _GoodFellas_ and _Casino_. In _The Irishman_, however, there's a thematic maturity not present in those films – the violence is presented with a degree more solemnity, the emotional fallout of such a life with a degree more finality. Much of this is tied up in Sheeran's daughter Peggy (played by Lucy Gallina as a child and Anna Paquin as an adult). An almost completely wordless role, Peggy is introduced in a scene in which she watches her father viciously beat the grocer for whom she works because he pushed her. The impression of him which this gives her is something Sheeran spends much of the rest of the film trying to ameliorate.

Another important element in the film's thematic complexity, particularly the theme of death, is that as each gangster appears for the first time, a subtitle tells us who they are, but also lists the date of their deaths and how they were murdered (which almost all were). There's no better illustration of just how concerned the film is with the nature of transience – every single one of these guys is a colossus in their own mind, and each deems themselves invincible (as do we all when young). Yet none of them make it out of life alive. In the film's last act, this theme is distilled down to its very essence, essentially positing that the only important thing you leave behind is your relationships with other people, and Sheeran has badly mismanaged his, resulting in him sitting alone in a nursing home at Christmas, waiting to die. In _GoodFellas_ and _Casino_, the protagonists lose their wealth, possessions, status, and so on, but in _The Irishman_, the loss is more existential – Sheeran loses his soul. Telling himself for much of the film that he's an inherently decent person insofar as he loves his family and is loyal to his friends, it's only at the very end that he comes to realise he was a monster. Scorsese is here showing us that men like Sheeran and Bufalino must erase their humanity to function effectively in this world (or conversely, that they can function effectively because they have no humanity to begin with), suggesting that men with no conscience are not only not men, they're not even alive.

This issue comes to a head in a remarkably well-acted scene towards the end of the film in which Sheeran calls the widow of a man he has recently murdered (all the man's wife knows at the time of the call is that her husband is missing). Assuring her that he's there for her should she need anything, Sheeran urges her to try to think positive, explaining that he believes the man will turn up eventually. It clearly causes him a degree of pain, but the fact that he can do it at all speaks to his sociopathy if not necessarily his psychopathology. The last act, as the violence settles and the zingers and insults dry up, is remarkably bleak in a way that the last acts of _GoodFellas_ and _Casino_ aren't, and as we watch Sheeran sitting in that nursing home, taking stock, spelling out his regrets, reminiscing about his actions as a young man, it's impossible not to see the meta dimension – Scorsese himself looking back on his career, remembering the classics of yesteryear, keenly aware that old-age is beginning to creep up on him.

In terms of the acting, the closest we get to a poor performance is Pacino, who portrays Hoffa as if he was playing, well, Al Pacino. This is arguably the biggest he's gone since Taylor Hackford's _Devil's Advocate_ (1997), a film in which he quite literally played Satan. But in terms of portraying Hoffa, look at footage of the real Hoffa, then watch both The Irishman and Danny DeVito's _Hoffa_ (1992) in which Jack Nicholson plays the character, and tell me who gives the more authentic performance. Don't get me wrong, Pacino is fun to watch (I would gladly see an entire film composed of nothing but him and Stephen Graham insulting one another), and most of the laughs come from his over-the-top antics, but it's not an especially accurate depiction of the real man. As for De Niro, this is his first not-phoned-in performance in decades, possibly since _Casino_ and Mann's _Heat_ (1995), and he imbues the character with real interiority and complex psychology, without diluting Sheeran's inherent inhumanity. However, the real standout performance is Pesci. Nine years since his last live-action film, Pesci falls back into the groove without missing a beat. However, those looking for the fireworks of Tommy DeVito or Nicky Santoro will be disappointed – this is literally the inverse of such performances. Pesci's Bufalino is quiet, calm, considered, highly intelligent, but cold and sociopathic, the kind of man who wouldn't so much beat your head in, but would order someone else to do so without giving it a second thought.

If the film has a single problem, it's the runtime. Depending on your perspective, 206 minutes is either too long or, ironically, not long enough. I could certainly see this story working well as a six-hour miniseries, but as a film, it needs trimming. As mentioned above, the last act is devastating; there's little tension as such, but there sure is pathos. However, by the time we got to this point, I was starting to feel the film had outstayed its welcome, when I should have been the most heavily invested in the story. This has been a recurrent problem in recent Scorsese films, most notably _The Aviator_ (2004), _The Wolf of Wallstreet_ (2013), and the horrendous _Silence_ (2016), but this is the first time he's strayed from over-long into self-indulgence. The film simply doesn't warrant this length; whole scenes could easily be removed without compromising the story, the character beats, or the emotion. This is mostly felt in the long middle section in which Scorsese broadens the story to take in the Kennedy and Nixon presidencies, without ever really tying the historical material to Sheeran's narration. Presumably, he's trying to show the interconnectedness between the underworld and politics, but given the time he spends on it, that isn't especially clear.

Another problem, albeit a smaller one, is the digital de-aging. Apart from a scene showing a 20-something Sheeran, in which De Niro looks like he's made of (cheap) wax, I thought the technology was deployed pretty successfully; it's a little jolting at first, but easy to get used to. What stood out, however, was the tired bodies beneath those de-aged faces. This is most notable in the scene where Sheeran beats up Peggy's boss – a pivotal moment that drives a permanent wedge between the two as she witnesses for the first time his savagery. Except the beating is pathetic – the kicks are about five miles away from the man's face and De Niro's exhausted stomps wouldn't flatten a wet cardboard box. It's a shame as, it's a good scene, but the lack of correlation between face and body is undeniably jarring. Another issue is one that has cropped up in all of Scorsese's Mob films – glorification. Obviously, _The Irishman_ is about the toxic masculinity of this world and the lonely endgame (if one even gets to the endgame), but much as was the case with his (frankly stomach-churning) softening of Jordan Belfort in _Wolf of Wall Street_, Scorsese runs a very real risk of glamorising what he claims to be condemning.

With 20 minutes shaved off, this could have been one of the best films of the century thus far. For me, _The Irishman_ was a very good movie, but certainly not the masterpiece many others have felt it to be. But that's just me, and I can certainly recognise and celebrate such ambitious and _auteur_-driven filmmaking, especially coming, as it does, at a time when more and more it feels like films are being made by committees rather than by artists. Arguably Scorsese's most eschatological film, certainly since _Kundun_ (1997), _The Irishman_ is essentially a story of how one man lost his soul, and, by extension how the world for which he lost it dehumanises and degrades those who participate in its rites. Although brought down by old-age, abandonment, and the merciless nature of human existence, Scorsese refuses to afford these men an easy out – they made their choices, and they must now live, and die, with the consequences.


This being nominated for SAG's "Best Acting Ensemble" is basically like when _Bohemian Rhapsody_ won "Best Editing" at the Oscars.

This uh... This movie's better though.

_Final rating:★★★ - I liked it. Would personally recommend you give it a go._


It might not be Martin Scorsese’s best film yet, but it’s one more proof that he’s one of the most talented filmmakers ever. With Robert De Niro delivering his best performance of the decade, Al Pacino going crazy and Joe Pesci brilliantly coming out of retirement, The Irishman is a wonderfully-written, (very) long story about friendship and life. The best editing (Thelma Schoonmaker) of the year makes the runtime smoother, but it still drags on for too long. I also feel that Anna Paquin’s character should have had more impact. The de-aging VFX is mind-blowing, even if it takes a few minutes to get used to it.

Rating: A-


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