NYFF Review: ‘The Irishman’

Martin Scorsese is back with directing The Irishman, which tells the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) working as a hitman. The movie is based on Charles Brandt’s book diving into Sheeran’s part in American labor union leader, Jimmy Hoffa’s murder.

The younger versions of the characters are impressive

The movie jumps through different points in time. One of the timelines starts with a younger Sheeran meeting mafioso Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci.)

This means the actors’ skin is smoothed through visual effects to accomplish this. All of this could have been distracting, but the younger versions of the characters look impressive.

The Irishman is pretty stylized given Sheeran narrates the story and might even acknowledge what characters are saying. Sometimes this leads to a few laughs. There is also text given during the introduction of different characters telling the audience how they eventually died.

At times it feels like this wealth of information is overwhelming and doesn’t actually add to the story. But those who are interested in this kind of history might enjoy it.

The film takes almost four hours to tell the story to completion

It doesn’t take long for the movie to show audiences what it’s in for in terms of violence. However, the film takes almost four hours to tell the story to completion.

This is because the story is full of characters and the movie dives into the dynamics between all of them. Pesci and De Niro have a great chemistry as friends. Of course, many will be looking forward to De Niro working with Al Pacino, who plays Jimmy Hoffa.

All of the respected actors unsurprisingly give great performances. Some of the scenes and the movie’s plot points will inevitably remind audiences of their past work like Goodfellas, Scarface and The Godfather.

In my opinion, these comparisons will probably hurt more than help the movie. There isn’t one specific scene or line that really stands out like these classics. A reason for that might be how long the movie is that it’s even harder for anything to stay with you after one sitting.

One person that did stand out is Stephen Graham who plays Anthony Provenzano

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Russell Bufalino was not an easy man to please.

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One person that did stand out is Stephen Graham who plays Anthony Provenzano, a captain in the Genovese crime family. He has the tough job of going toe to toe with Pacino in several scenes and he handles his own.

The movie eventually catches up with Sheeran in his later years. At this point, it feels like the story is trying to hammer a few points home about the hitman’s relationships after all these years. Sadly, it falls flat because his family members, like his daughter Peggy (Anna Paquin), are barely characters that say anything throughout the film.

The Irishman does feel like a labor or love by the film’s creators. They get some heavy hitters to reunite in the cast, and really take their time with their source material. The movie did feel like work to watch despite the interesting story possibly because that love didn’t want to leave anything out.

The Irishman will be released on Netflix on Nov. 27.