The Irishman is a crime epic directed by Martin Scorsese the plot follows Frank Sheeran, (Robert De Niro), as he descends into the mobster underworld. The film spans Sheeran’s whole life; focusing a lot of the runtime on Sheeran’s relationship with the notorious Jimmy Hoffa, (Al Pacino).
The Irishman is an incredibly ambitious undertaking on Scorsese’s part, as he uses de-ageing technology to show the actors in their younger forms, rather than casting younger actors, which for the most part works well, especially if you’re prepared to suspend your disbelief; there were only two instances when I thought the CGI technology was noticeably bad.
It is nice to see all of these Gangster Film/ Scorsese veterans back on the big screen together, De Niro gives a career-best performance, which is nice to see as he hasn’t been in the best films recently. De Niro has given so much to the gangster genre, effectively becoming a cornerstone of it and, it is nice to see him get centre stage once again. Pacino likewise is phenomenal, his Hoffa can go toe to toe with Sheeran both in terms of presence and memorability. Really the Irishman is the story of the relationship between these two men. Another thing that makes the Irishman so special is that it marks the on-screen return of prolific crime film star Joe Pesci. Pesci plays Russel Bufalino a crime boss who takes a young Sheeran under his blood-soaked wing, it is lovely to see Pesci return, he gives a hearty performance, perhaps not as manic and crazed as some of his older performances, but still incredibly commanding all the same.
My one issue with the casting is that of Anna Paquin as Polly Sheeran, Frank’s daughter. Since very early on in the film Polly and Frank have a very tense relationship; as such she doesn’t talk to her father in the last act of the film, despite him wanting them to, my complaint is not that Paquin doesn’t have many lines, instead being why cast Paquin at all; this would have been a great opportunity to give to an unknown or, an upcoming talent; as Paquin herself doesn’t add much.
My final note is that the runtime, in case you didn’t know, is 3 and a half hours, which can be off-putting to some. The Irishman is paced very deliberately, sometimes scenes feel very long and drawn out, and yes this did make me lose focus and I did almost give up with it a few times, but such is the nature of an epic.
If you like the genre then there is more than enough to get you to invest in the Irishman, however, if you’re more of a casual viewer you may find some elements of it off-putting. Overall it is very nice to see some of these familiar faces back on the screen and giving standout performances.
Reviewed by Luke