The Martin Scorsese film “The Irishman” pans through the 20th century signifying an era of the powerful mob, unfolding series of events in a classic Scorsese flashback narration style. Starting with a tracking shot following through a noisy crowded lobby leading to the old protagonist Frank ( Robert De Niro) sitting in a wheelchair. The story develops around the Philadelphia Mob hitman Frank Sheeran “Irishman” and his involvement in the disappearance of the Teamster Union Boss Jimmy Hoffa ( Al Pacino).
The film has been adapted by the screenwriter Steven Zaillian from the bestselling true-crime “I heard you paint houses” by Charles Brandt. Initially the term, “I heard you paint houses” is used by Hoffa in the film during a telephonic conversation with Frank referring to the hitmen carrying out assassinations for mob bosses which doesn’t end quite in favor of Hoffa himself down the timeline.
It can be hard to film one of the biggest gangsters flicks without using hardly any guns and violence but that is what the legendary Scorsese has accomplished in his yet another masterpiece. Some very powerful and intense conversations, brilliantly delivered dialogues and the beautiful cinematic shots have added the flavors to indeed one of the most awaited films of the year.
The Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto has done an outstanding job in cinematography and the timeline of the film which stretches throughout the whole century. You can feel the film camera effect and color in the first part of the film which makes it stand out from the more advanced and vibrant digital camera smoothness in the second part.
One of the scenes that just stands apart is “ Frank’s appreciation night “ as the whole thing is set up in a big hall with large red curtains falling down to the room lit with red table lamps giving the whole scene a sinister look in contrast with the ongoing celebration. It marks a fine example of Art direction and stunning cinematography with a lot of things going on at the same time leading to the decision of Hoffa’s fate.
On the contrary, digital effects didn’t quite succeed in showing the characters getting old through the film but played an important role with its ground-breaking laser-based aging technique using the same characters.
The brilliant dazzling performances by the favorite cast of the film starring Robert De Nero, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino whom we have seen growing up is purely a feast to the eyes. The Scorsese fans who idolize Goodfellas and Casino definitely missed the essence of the young Joe Pesci whom they have seen fierce and relentless. Joes Pesci in this film is playing the role of the mob boss Russell Buffalino with a calm approach and a very powerful dominant presence. The fiery “Heat” duo Robert Di Niro and Al Pacino successfully gave a performance of a lifetime complementing each other even during the bedtime pyjama conversations.
Overall the 3-hour long film stands up to the expectations with old Frank left alone in the end and fails to disappoint you with its build-up and intense elements ending the film in a classic “Unhappily ever after” Scorsese style.
- Syed Jazib Ali
Journalist & Documentary Filmmaker