Martin Scorsese, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci…you don’t have to say more. I’m in. That was my reaction when I came across the news that Scorsese will finally be making his passion project about Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran’s life. The film is based on the novel ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ by Charles Brandt. The book chronicles one of the most prolific hitmen in history and covers the biggest hit in mob history, Jimmy Hoffa. Running at an epic three and a half hours, the film explores Frank’s introduction to the mob, his involvement in WWII, his rise with the Italian mob and his later years.
Robert De Niro stars as The Irishman and gifts us with his best on-screen performance since 1995’s ‘Heat’. The 76-year-old New Yorker shows that form is temporary, but class is permanent with this portrayal as Frank Sheeran. It was an honour to watch one of the greatest actors of all time channel his extraordinary talents on screen yet again. Al Pacino is an actor who, I would argue, has not lived up to his performances from his early career into the 1990’s. Pacino’s last memorable performance was Christophe Nolan’s ‘Insomnia’. Since then, we haven’t been able to see Pacino at his best and give his famous energetic portrayal that is until now. Moving swiftly onto Joe Pesci, ‘The Irishman’ being his 4th film since 1998’s ‘Lethal Weapon 4’, the retired actor comes back one more time to the dream team that is Scorsese and De Niro. Known for his animated and powerful performances in Scorsese’s ‘Raging Bull’, Pesci utilizes and channels mob boss Russell Buffalino, a character played by Pesci in ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino’, to convince and grip the view from power and persuasion. His body language and use of his eyes are powerful as Bufalino, you know exactly what his character is going to say before his delivery. An actor like Pesci is surely missed on the big screen.
Being his passion project, you knew that Scorsese was patiently waiting for his moment to deliver this film. Deliver it he does. Turning 77 this year, Scorsese proves yet again that he will go down as being one of the greatest directors of all time. His ability to continue to add to his impressive resume with a movie like this that packs such a punch and holds so much material, is extremely impressive at the age of 77. His experience of making mob movies contributes to this film’s success no doubt but his direction and tone for this film is so different in comparison. In his predecessing gangster movies, the characters show little remorse for the acts that they commit whereas with ‘The Irishman’ Scorsese tells the story very differently. There is no glorification of violence or celebration of crime. It’s a story that shows the effects of the heinous crimes of Sheeran’s hits and how this isolated him from his wife and daughters.
It really is a stunning movie. It’s Scorsese best work for a long time and its one that will go down as one of his best films. It’s a joy to be able to watch all of these veterans go back to a genre that they all have dominated. What feels like the last hurrah for the majority of these actors, especially as you may never see all of these greats together on screen again is a sad thought, but if this is their last film, then it’s an incredible way to go out.
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