Based on a non-fiction? book I Heard Your Paint Houses and accordingly the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) allegedly killing the union mob leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), we find the director Martin Scorsese and everyone else really working at their best. Plus, notably, this was financed and distributed by Netflix but does any of this take away from the film’s “cinematic” feeling?
Personally, I don’t think so. For one it opens with quite a cool tracking shot, the camera eventually finding an old Sheeran, reflecting on the story. We then cut back and forth across a timeline as The Irishman tracks characters at different ages, also with Joe Pesci returning to the spotlight to amazingly play the mobster Russell Bufalino, keeping in check/manipulating Sheeran. It’s great how De Niro, Al Pacino, and Pesci pretty much get to share a film together but not at the cost of a flashy style trying to emphasise this fact. Indeed, although Scorsese’s direction allows a fair bit of flair and this is very much a gangster film, there’s quite a mature attitude to the whole thing you know? It’s to a point he allows a three-and-a-half running time not for the sake of being indulgent, but just to allow the story to breathe. Well done.
If I had one criticism really, it’s that to commit to the integrity of tracking the three aforementioned actors across a big timeline in service of the narrative, digital de-aging’s used quite a bit. I raise this as although it’s pretty seamless, my brain couldn’t help but pick it out at times. Still, although it’s an issue to the point of having to talk about it, the technique still works enough. Since supposedly first being used in X-Men: The Last Stand to de-age Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, we’ve sure come a long way.
All in all, you should really check The Irishman out. Even if you can’t sit through the whole at once, it’s lovely to feel everyone involved working at their best within a gangster film’s context, so you’ve got no excuse not to watch this 😛.
P.S, Anna Paquin playing Sheeran’s daughter Peggy in the later bits has been criticised for her only having one line. I disagree with the criticism because she beautifully plays her father’s silent, observational conscience. Here’s hoping Paquin gets enough credit in the end.