It is as if the principal were to prove, once and for all, that he is a teacher. And, without a doubt, he succeeds.
In the end it will be that Martin Scorsese will know how to make a good movie about the Mafia. Who would have thought…
The strangest of all is that if you let yourself be carried away by the first impression about The Irishman , the last epic about the mythical mafia underworld, based solely on his latest trailer and the iconic names that appear on screen (De Niro, Pacino , Pesci!), You might think that in some way Scorsese had convinced Netflix to take out his large checkbook to finance something like a great success of weapons and foul-mouthed Italians and Italians. And for the record, there would be nothing wrong with that. After all, the constant tales about the Scorsese Mafia are something like Van Gogh painting sunflowers in Arles. There can never be too many variations on the same subject.
But The Irishman , which opened worldwide yesterday opening the 2023 New York Film Festival, is more than the final chapter of a trilogy on smart guys that started with One of ours back in 1990, and resumed again at Casino in 1995. Much, much more. It develops over 50 years, and lasts 209 minutes, something that will undoubtedly test the endurance of your bladder, and is undoubtedly an encyclopedic story about American crime in the second half of the twentieth century.
The rise of the international Brotherhood of truckers, the strength of the Kennedy family, the disastrous invasion of Bay of Pigs, the botched stealing of Watergate documents, the rise and fall of the Nostra Thing, the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa … Everything is here, presented with all the energy of a master author who, at 76, is still in top form. It is as if Scorsese were to prove, once and for all, that he is the last member of his generation capable of achieving such a thing. And, without a doubt, he succeeds.
The film is an adaptation of I Heard You Paint Houses, the 2004 book by Charles Brandt, and the screenplay for the film is the work of Oscar winner Steven Zaillian, screenwriter for Schindler’s List . The Irishman tells the story of Frank Sheeran, a character of those who remember those created by Horatio Alger, a type of knuckles enriched by which Scorsese has always been attracted (not to say he feels a sickly obsession with them).
Performed by Robert De Niro, and with the help of some aging removal tricks thanks to visual effects (courtesy of ILM, also known as Industrial Light Magic) that are thousands of miles away from the spooky effects created by Robert Zemeckis, Sheeran begins as an Irish blue collar worker, an American truck driver who wins the favor of the Mafia (especially Russell Bufalino, the criminal chief of Pennsylvania played by Joe Pesci) thanks to his willingness to carry out all criminal acts that the organization asks without asking too many questions or suffering many sleepless nights.
In the crypto jargon of the Mafia, he is known as a man who “paints houses”, which means that he colors the walls with the crimson red blood of those who have the bad luck of finishing at the other end of their 38 mm revolver . Frank’s business is to kill … and the business is especially good.
It is Bufalino who first introduces Sheeran to the almighty leader of the International Brotherhood of Truckers, Jimmy Hoffa. Brilliantly portrayed by Al Pacino, Hoffa is a man who wants to have him both ways: he depends on the Mafia to be strong when it comes to strikes and pickets, and lends millions of unionists’ pension funds to families to help to build Las Vegas, but also refuses to bend the knee before them. As the decades pass, with Scorsese circling with the chronology of the story in a way that is sometimes a bit confusing, Sheeran feels more and more like a kind of link between his two teachers until he is tragically forced to Choose which way your loyalty goes. It is not a heroic figure, no doubt. But again,
There are times in The Irishman that Scorsese’s epic seems to occasionally exceed his understanding. The secondary characters (most of whom are called “Tony”) come and go as if they were a chorus of unimportant pissed off characters. There are perhaps too many scenes where the protagonists go directly to the viewer. And the same happens with the voice-overs in the style One of ours . Both artistic resources have too much weight in the plot, probably more than they should. Not to mention that Zaillian’s script doesn’t even try to hide who was behind Hoffa’s infamous act of disappearance outside Detroit in the summer of 1975.
Fortunately, the three veteran heavyweights that make up the protagonist trio seem to have rejuvenated by working again with Scorsese (in the case of Pacino, for the first time). De Niro, who seems so often in recent years that he can’t even bother calling on the phone in his interpretations, makes you feel very deeply the tragic and torn loyalty of Sheeran, without even having to say a word. His face is an embossed map of regret, especially in the last years of his character. Meanwhile, Pacino grabs you by the neck in the role of the sullen and arrogant Hoffa. In his world, his power has been so absolute for so long that even he does not seem to understand the dangerous dangerous game he is playing until it is too late. It is a magnificent act of sleight of hand. And Pesci, who has not appeared on the screen (at least in something memorable) in more than a decade, reduces his usual chaos of high tones and violence with his most subtle, smooth and effective turn sinceRaging Bull .
The Irishman is not a masterpiece. But it is magnificent. If Netflix’s ambition now and in the future is to become more than just a super store of streaming content, and wants to become a serious competitor every year at the Academy Awards, then it was a cunning move to attract Scorsese without posing Problems with budget limits. What he has obtained in return is not just an old school movie about the Mafia or something like one of ours , but rather a disturbing, touching drama, a twilight of the gods tinged with regret, driven by a monumental ambition covered by the red sauce of violence. In short, what could be more American than that?
The Irishman arrived in theaters (on a testimonial basis) on November 15, and from the 27 of the same month will be available to all Netflix customers.
- https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1302006/ (IMDb 8.3/10)