The Irishman

The Irishman ★★★★

The Irishman, or alternately titled I Heard You Paint Houses (that's the title that flashed across my screen), is a trademark Scorsese gangster picture at its core, but also a meditative study on loss of life. I'm not talking literal death, but the loss of family, friends and the ability to lead a normal life due to being forever indebted to "The Brotherhood". Once you're in, you're in! If you're out, you're dead. Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran (Robert De Niro) finds that out the hard way. So does Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). To be honest, this film lives and dies with Hoffa. Sure, he's just a part of Sheeran's life story, but, let's face it, he makes Sheeran's story as interesting as it is. So, once Hoffa meets his fate, whatever fate that truly might be, it's hard to maintain interest in Sheeran's own fate. I think the real trouble there is that Pacino's live-wire performance absolutely dominates the film, and you kind of forget that this is supposed to be De Niro's picture. And then there's Joe Pesci, who is a marvel all on his own. There's still so much power packed into that little man - and to think he's retired! De Niro, Pacino and Pesci's performances combined really drive this three and half hour film, along with Scorsese's always capable direction. However, I could argue that the film could use some cuts here and there. For instance, the conversation about the fish in the backseat stuck out like a sore thumb. Also, Sheeran's strained relationship with his daughter (Anna Paquin) was not very well explored. I had to laugh when Sheeran remarked that she never spoke to him again after he allegedly killed Hoffa. She wasn't speaking to him to begin with! Despite those minor criticisms, The Irishman is still an epic piece of filmmaking, and yet another benchmark achievement for Martin Scorsese.

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