There’s a reason Martin Scorsese is known as one of the best directors of our time. That’s because he is. He’s managed to present us a fresh tale of mobsters yet again, using the same faces of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. There are also new faces of Al Pacino, Bobby Cannavale, and Ray Romano. Each decision in the movie only makes it better. As a viewer, you’re glued to each scene and can never predict what happens next. But Martin Scorsese adds something extra in The Irishman, and the movie is all the more entertaining because of it.
A New Side to Mobster’s Life | Loneliness and Emptiness
While The Irishman is a classic tale of how Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro)’s life is intertwined with the mobster gangs, it also stays realistic and shows you a melancholic side. Yes, you see some cold-hearted killing but also the gut-wrenching pain of seeing Frank as an old lonely man whose daughters don’t want to talk to him anymore. It depicts another side of the mobster life; where Frank has to deal with the fact that all his actions were for naught. In the end, he had nothing left. No family, no money, no mansion, no respect, no friends. Those who could have stayed with him were all were either dead or killed.
While his family not meeting him anymore is a great source of inexplicable emptiness for De Niro’s character, we don’t see much of them. There are a few scenes where his daughter Peggy, played by Lucy Gallina, does justice in showing how there’s a distrust in her eyes for her own father. To protect her daughter, Frank beats the living crap out of a shopkeeper in a violent way that you shouldn’t expose your kid to. But to Frank, he’s protecting Peggy.
As Peggy grows up, we see through Anna Paquin’s riveting portrayal that the mistrust she had for Frank and his associate Russell (Joe Pesci), only grew. After realizing that her father probably had a part in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, whom she actually trusted, she stops talking to Frank forever. The whole dynamic makes your heart ache.
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Robert De Niro’s commentatory with its naturalness and softness reels the viewer in and makes them feel comfortable. It’s as if you’re right there with Frank Sheeran’s nursing home listening to an old man’s adventurous yet painful life.
Scorsese usually works with Pesci and De Niro but adding Al Pacino was the right decision. The screenplay by Steven Zaillian and the direction by Scorsese created a perfect blend between these three legendary actors. Frank (De Niro), Jimmy (Al Pacino), and Russell (Joe Pesci) had the utmost respect for one another. There was undeniable chemistry that played off on the screen in a beautiful subtlely. All three of these characters are layered with complex flaws. You never truly figure what their intentions are, Though you do know they have power. Once they know they want something, they do everything in their power to get it. That’s great to see on the screen. It’s also more interesting to watch when Scorsese adds another side to the intimidating nature. For instance, Al Pacino’s Jimmy Hoffa is powerful and strong but he isn’t afraid to show his soft side to Frank’s daughter, Peggy when they’re sharing an ice-cream.
The Narration Choice Made Sense
De Niro’s Frank lens was used to narrate the story because the book ‘The Irishman’ is based off on actually contains stories as told by the real Frank Sheeran. Charles Brandt’s ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ is focused on the lens of Frank but it’s actually the wisest choice. Because through Frank, you can see all sides of the picture, of how someone can be sucked into the mobster life.
The morality and conscience of Frank don’t seem to be there like it does for normal people, but it’s as if he can’t grasp the need for it. He doesn’t think long-term and doesn’t have money or fame guiding his life. He always has loyalty in his veins, even though it changes quite frequently. You don’t root for Frank to have a happy ending. But you’re also sad to see him get a lonely one. He strains his relationship with his family but he seems to think that he was only protecting them. By protecting him his own way, he pushes them away completely.
The cinematography in The Irishman Combines New Tech With Martin Scorsese’s Brilliance
The de-aging technology that Scorsese uses on his actors to make them look 40 years young works in an almost perfect fashion to concoct a riveting tale of a mobster’s life. The flashbacks within a flashback structure actually make the movie even more thrilling as each scene goes by. We see Frank’s first meeting with Russell to him driving him and their wives around to seeing him kill Jimmy Hoffa in cold blood to him gazing at the priest in a wheelchair as a lonely old man.
Truly nothing in the movie would make you think that it was unnecessary. Of course, it’s 3 hours and 30 minutes long. But missing even one moment would be an injustice to Martin Scorsese’s work of art. Every ten minutes of the movie felt like an exciting episode of a great tale.
It’s thrilling, riveting, melancholic, nostalgic, and it makes you feel pitiful sympathy for a man that was a stone-cold killer. You may not get all the answers to many questions that arose but it doesn’t make the movie feel incomplete.
To quote an iconic line uttered by the actors, “It is what it is”.
Take it or leave it. But personally, I think it’s one of Scorsese’s greatest works and deserves to be seen at least once.