‘The Irishman’: How Much Swearing Is in the Film?

Whenever Martin Scorsese has something to say about cinema, people tend to listen. So, when the legendary director behind Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas announces a new project, it instantly shoots to the top of cinephiles’ most-anticipated lists. Such is the case with The Irishman.

The film has been getting mostly positive — though some decidedly mixed — reviews during its festival run. Now it’s enjoying a limited theatrical release before making its Netflix debut later in November 2019. With widespread access to the film looming, hardcore Scorsese fans may be wondering how much swearing The Irishman actually has.

Martin Scorsese and the cast of 'The Irishman' at the New York Film Festival
Martin Scorsese and the cast of ‘The Irishman’ at the New York Film Festival | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Film at Lincoln Center

De Niro, Pacino, Pesci, and the potential for profanity

For most filmmakers, gauging a film’s level of profanity may seem shallow and pedantic. However, bear in mind that the director’s filmography is known for its illustrious application of four-letter words. More than just a sprinkle, Scorsese’s films dole out obscenities like few others.

Part of why the profanity in his films is so memorable is due to their casts. Scorsese’s regular collaborators include Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel. All three of these men — along with Samuel L. Jackson, who appears with De Niro and Pesci in Goodfellas — are experts at on-screen swearing.

To that end, The Irishman unites De Niro, Pesci and Keitel with notorious expert swear-machine Al Pacino. Amazingly, Pacino has never starred in a Scorsese film before. So, the potential for profanity with The Irishman was easily off the charts.

How explicit is the language in ‘The Irishman’?

Over at Slate, writer Marissa Martinelli took it upon herself to tally up the language in The Irishman. However, noting every single bit of profanity in the film seems like an impossible task. So Martinelli focused on how many F-words — and its variations — the characters used throughout the film’s 209-minute runtime.

Despite its foul-mouthed cast, The Irishman actually comes up short relative to Scorsese’s filmography. Martinelli found that the director’s latest only has 136 F-words. For comparison’s sake, this places The Irishman leagues behind Goodfellas (300 F-words), Casino (422 F-words), and especially The Wolf of Wall Street (569 F-words).

Apparently, Pacino — and not Pesci, the usual suspect — is the culprit behind most of the profane language in The Irishman. In the film, Pacino plays labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa, whose 1975 disappearance is critical to the plot. In any case, fans banking on a record-breaking number of curse words might be disappointed in this regard.

Scorsese’s chances this awards season

The way awards season is shaping up, the shortage of obscenities may be one of the only ways Scorsese fans will be let down. The film’s reviews have been universally positive, highlighting the scope of the production and its performances.

Scorsese’s long-awaited reunion with De Niro is probably a key factor in what makes The Irishman work so well. Theirs is one of the most iconic director/actor pairings in modern cinema history. Over the years, their collaborations have given way to one classic film after another.

So for fans of both Scorsese and De Niro, The Irishman is likely to be worth the wait, at least if the buzz is any indication. Oscar voters are already taking notice, putting the film in a very good place right now. This awards season looks bright for The Irishman, regardless of how many F-bombs Scorsese slipped into the final cut.