The Irishman (2019) is the latest movie by acclaimed film director Martin Scorsese, considered one of the most influential filmmakers in the industry. It’s based on the nonfiction novel I Heard You Paint Houses by author Charles Brandt, and tells the story of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a hitman associated with Russell Bufalino‘s criminal family and the powerful American labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa, during the 60’s and 70’s.
After more than a decade of stagnation due to its high production cost, Netflix acquired the rights of The Irishman for USD105 million and financed the film with a budget of $125 million. The high investment was necessary to achieve the wonderful special effects of digital de-aging that allowed us to meet the characters through 50 years, resulting in a three-and-a-half hours gangster epic in which Martin Scorsese had absolute creative freedom.
The film stars Robert De Niro in his ninth production with Scorsese, playing the silent and loyal Frank Sheeran. Jimmy Hoffa‘s character is personified by Al Pacino in his first collaboration with the director and retired actor Joe Pesci (who participated in numerous films with Scorsese and De Niro) plays the mafia boss Russell Bufalino, despite having rejected the role over fifty times.
As is natural in Scorsese‘s work, The Irishman is not a story about heroes and villains, but about characters with deep personal conflicts and the complicated contexts in which they operate. This film returns to common gangster cinema themes such as honor, violence and power. However, The Irishman ventures to explore how the aforementioned themes are affected by age, guilt and loneliness.
While films such as Goodfellas (1990) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) are quick and exciting films about excesses, The Irishman is a quiet and contemplative journey through criminal life and its consequences. With this one, Scorsese has made the definitive gangster movie and an artistic quest that is rarely found in the latest movies.