The Irishman is Martin Scorsese’s reflection of his entire career; when he started, how he rose to his power and who helped him along the way. He presented this through the story of Frank Sheeran, the man who was known to paint houses.
Frank Sheeran’s story was heavy and he met so many people along the way. It seemed that Sheeran lived many lives throughout this film and time played a major factor. The time he spent in the war, causing serious PTSD and conditioning by the army. The time he spent working and earning as much as he could for his new family. The time he spent making different moves with Russell Bufalino and Jimmy Hoffa. The time Sheeran takes in his old age to reflect on how he focused on one life instead of the other. It shows that no matter how loyal you are, how respectful you are or how many hits you do, you end up alone and that time being spent, reflecting on your life, feels like an eternity.
The pacing of this film is something I haven’t experienced before. It didn’t feel slow and it didn’t feel like there was too much being shoved into the runtime, it was just perfect. Thelma Schoonmaker is a master editor and she knew exactly how to run this story. The two acts showcasing the rise to power and the politics that become integrated in Jimmy Hoffa’s story all flowed beautifully. These characters were interesting because of the dialogue and the historical accuracy of it all. The third act is where Schoonmaker slows it down, it wasn’t because the story was coming to an end but because the protagonist, Sheeran was older, much older and life began to slow for him as well.
This felt like Scorsese’s magnum opus because there was such a finality to this piece. It was a love letter to all of the mob films that came before and in a way an introduction to the new generation. At the beginning of this film Sheeran states that no one knows or even cares about Jimmy Hoffa and then he proceeds to tell his version of the story. I found this interesting and I perceived it as Scorsese referencing his own career and this was the way he was going to reintroduce himself.
Everything was about this film was perfect. From Scorsese’s direction to Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography, to Sandy Powell’s costuming, to Robbie Robertson’s score and obviously to Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing, this beast is his masterpiece. Robert De Niro was superb and played Sheeran so well. His de-aging was perfectly fine and it didn’t look bad at all. Al Pacino as hot head Jimmy Hoffa was the only possible casting because he knocked it out of the park. He captured both sides of Hoffa and it was great to see. Joe Pesci’s Russell Bufalino was perfect and his subtlety as a mob boss was fun to watch. The three of them on screen together was quite emotional to watch at times because a film like this, with this calibre of acting, will never happen again.
The Irishman felt so personal, it felt very intimate and it’s because of who was on screen and working with Scorsese. It felt like a goodbye but we all know Marty isn’t going anywhere.