THE IRISHMAN (2019) – My rating: 7/10

The Irishman is an epic crime film directed and produced by Martin Scorsese. It is written by Steven Zaillian and based on the 2004 nonfiction book, I Heard You Paint Houses, by Charles Brandt. The film follows Frank Sheeran, a truck driver who becomes a hitman. The film includes Frank’s involvement with mobster Russell Bufalino and his crime family, plus his time working for the powerful Teamster, Jimmy Hoffa.

From a nursing home while sitting in his wheelchair, Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), an elderly World War II veteran, recounts his time as a hitman for a crime syndicate; during the 1950s in Philadelphia, Frank worked as a delivery truck driver.  Seeing an opportunity to make extra money, he starts to sell some of the contents of his shipments to local gangster Felix “Skinny Razor” DiTullio (Bobby Cannavale). After his company accuses him of theft, union lawyer Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano) gets him off after Sheeran refuses to name his customers to the judge. Bill introduces Frank to his cousin Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), who is head of the Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family. Frank begins to do small jobs for Russell and members of the local South Philadelphia underworld, including “painting houses,” a euphemism for murder. Soon, Russell introduces Frank to Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who has financial ties with the Bufalino crime family and is struggling to deal with fellow rising Teamster Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano (Stephen Graham), as well as mounting pressure from the federal government. Hoffa becomes close with Frank and his family, especially his daughter Peggy (Anna Paquin), and Frank becomes Hoffa’s chief bodyguard, while on the road.

I’m not sure why The Irishman received so many Oscar nominations, I am sure of one thing, the movie was one of the longest movies I’ve seen in some time.  I felt the last half hour of the movie could have been eliminated.  It didn’t really contribute anything to the story.  While De Niro (who was snubbed by the Academy), Pesci and Pacino are truly among the very best actors in Hollywood, they came off as pretty advanced, age-wise,  for their familiar role of mob characters. In their defense, Scenes were filmed with a custom three-camera rig to help facilitate the extensive de-aging digital effects that made De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci appear younger. Having said that, The Irishman was well-acted, despite their ages and well told.  However, the film was too long and at times,  tad bit slow-paced.  I almost feel as though we’ve seen it all when it comes to the topic of the mafia. With a production budget of $159 million and a runtime of 209 minutes, it is among the most expensive and longest films of Scorsese’s career. The film received critical acclaim, with particular praise for Scorsese’s direction and the performances of De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, The Irishman was nominated for five awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, while it earned 10 nominations at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards, including Best Film. The Irishman is now streaming on Netflix — Check It Out!

[THE IRISHMAN is Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, twice for Best Supporting Actor, followed by BEST: Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Visual Effects, Adapted Screenplay, and Costume Design — TOTALLING 10 OSCAR NOMINATIONS]

 

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