In The Irishman, Scorsese finally takes the glamor out of gangsters

At the press conference after the New York Film Festival press screening of the feature produced by Netflix The Irishman, director Martin Scorsese discussed the long pregnancy of the project and noted that he and star Robert De Niro had wanted to work together again "since Casino. "It sounded strange to hear it say so, because before that Casino, De Niro and Scorsese had one of the most fruitful collaborations in American films – to the point during CasinoIn the 1995 release, critics largely received it as an old version of Goodfellas. Now it's 2019, Casino has a better reputation, and De Niro and Scorsese have had no function for decades.


That kind of time-consuming blinking is the core of that The Irishman, even if the duration of three and a half hours suggests otherwise. Scorsese's return to organized crime and its neighboring events take place for about 50 years in the life of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a true assassin whose exploits powered the non-fiction book of Charles Brand I heard you paint houses. (The title flashes emphatically on the screen toward the beginning of Scorsese's movie.) To allow 76-year-old De Niro and other cast members to play younger versions of their characters, the movie uses advanced computer effects to are major players to age for large parts of the story. It is the most generous production of Netflix so far. (The film will have a limited theatrical release in November and will be streamed to Netflix subscribers on Thanksgiving.)

For the most part, the effects are impressively seamless. Apart from a few sequences in which the & # 39; young & # 39; The Niro of the film just does not match what the real young De Niro looked like, the most striking change is the change of his eye color from brown to blue. The tweaks are a bit creepy, but that dynamic works for the film, where Frank's sometimes murderous task is treated with bold, everyday removal. He doesn't call himself a hit man. He vaguely identifies as a trade unionist.

The Irishman Frank introduces for the first time as a truck driver who deals with strategic meat theft and gets away with it. ("I work hard for them if I don't steal," he explains.) He quickly joins the Bufalino crime family and becomes close to Russell (Joe Pesci, who falls back after his retirement) and later influential union leader Jimmy Hoffa ( Al Pacino, who makes a late Scorsese record debut). Frank shoots many people in the head, but he spends just as much time smoothing out small steaks, and dissects the hidden meanings of a gangster who trusts that he & # 39; a little worried & # 39; is about the failure of another gangster.

De Niro delivers the usual Scorsese gangster narration in which the ins and outs of his company are explained, but the film is not full of procedural details or multiple colorful points of view, such as Casino or Goodfellas. Scorsese and his former editor Thelma Schoonmaker still make aside with spicy openings and propel the action, but they bring facts about middle management. Text on the screen fills a few gaps with what becomes a running gag: while the text introduces small characters, it also notes the details of their violent downfall years later. The aging effects are partially effective because they are subtle; Frank Sheeran never looks particularly youthful. He feels comfortable in middle age for most of the film. It implies that his service in World War II may have robbed him of youthful idealism, or even general lust.

Photo: Niko Tavernise / Netflix

The retro clunkiness of these characters, far beyond their physical prime, is the key to what makes The Irishman often surprisingly hilarious. The tough guys – especially Pacino & # 39; s fleeting Hoffa – are bickering about punctuality, offering each other breakfast cereals, drinking ginger beer. De Niro and Pacino share a hotel room with grandpa pajamas. In a framework device within a framework device, De Niro and Pesci go on a slow, smoke-filled road trip with their wives. The gangster films from Scorsese usually have streaks of biting humor, but here it is more common, such as when the ultra-powerful Hoffa tries to enjoy an ice cream sundae without an employee nagging him about the federal laws that affect their pensions differently.

Pacino is delightful in his role, his conciliatory show boating (suitable for an inflated, sometimes self-proclaimed male leader) reconciled with his ability to remain silent. Meanwhile, Pesci pays out his violent characters Goodfellas and Casino. He is the equally high-ranking higher who evaluates the situation and gives his orders, and the De Niro still & # 39; child & # 39; calls after decades together. It is an impressive, imposing bit of restraint.


The De Niro version, especially with its digital tweaks, is likely to hit some Scorsese habits as a boiler plate, considering how it relies on its familiar downcast mouth, wrinkled eyes, and hemmed and hawend. But if The Irishman goes on, wonderfully entertaining but not concise, his work gathers strength. The film barely covers the growth of Frank & # 39; s family (another way he was made to look like perma middle-aged); it hardly distinguishes between his wife and his mistress.

Photo: Netflix

But at an early stage, Scorsese finds that Frank works at home under the watchful eye of his daughter Peggy (Lucy Gallina as a child; Anna Paquin as an adult). As a child she says very little and her parents describe her as shy and sensitive. Then she suddenly grew, and her silence is not so easy to ignore. It is a shame to see Paquin in a Scorsese film without doing anything but reproachful looks, but the neglect is certainly thematically appropriate. It is no coincidence that Frank's closest relationships are with fellow gangsters / workers. He may not enjoy violence, but he is at home in that world, more than in the home atmosphere.

All Scorsese violent films take into account the consequences of their violence, but The Irishman is especially interesting in the way it follows Frank as he gets older. It is clear from the opening shot that follows from a nursing home that this is not a man who is beaten, blown up by a car bomb or even limited to witnessing protection. He lives with what he does, but seems fully equipped to struggle with it. The film is horrifying, not because De Niro Frank plays as an icy, ruthless murderer, but because he is a sympathetic business man, proud of his dinner with appreciation for the union, and he also accidentally kills without remorse.

Scorsese has often viewed his gangster characters as a mixture of fascination and repulsion, and they never looked less glamorous than here, especially in the devastating final piece of the film. The most important players of The Irishman weaving into and from the American history of the & # 39; 60 and & # 39; 70. Yet most of them, especially Frank, seem to live for their pointless, small work and fight against the clock. That theme makes the film's technological battle against aging in real life even more gripping, as the digital fountain of youth makes way for decline. In many ways, this is an Old Man film – a slower work from the late period of a filmmaker who recognizes at his advanced age and the beloved classics he made as a younger man. But it is the version of Scorsese: pulsating with more life than most younger filmmakers, before giving way to grim, hair-raising regret.