LFF 2019 Preview - The Irishman
Dir: Maetin Scorsese
Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin
Tellingly, the only title Martin Scorsese’s latest offers up before its lengthy three hours and twenty minute run is “I Hear You Paint Houses”, the title of Charles Brandt’s original novel, rather than the imposed (?) simpler title of “The Irishman” – you have to wait till half way through the end titles before than comes up. Whether this is the filmmaker making some sort of statement remains moot however, as his work on display here is exemplary – even if its running time reeks more of mini series than standalone feature.
De Niro is said “house painter” Frank Sheeran (it’s a metaphor for bumping people off – and no, not Ed’s dad), a union worker who rises high in said union, becomes Jimmy Hoffa’s right hand man and then is placed in the awkward position of cutting that hand off. The movie mixes true life crime with already established history – and indeed the mystery of what actually became of Teamsters’ boss Hoffa.
But what it does more than anything is explore the milieu of what occurred behind the scenes of mob affiliations at this time. And as such it does indeed stand as a companion piece to GoodFellas, with De Niro’s Frank providing the narration this time, in place of Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill. This film lacks the former’s sometime frenetic pace, but finds a rhythm of its own that is equally satisfying.
A lot has been made of the digital de-aging of its main stars, but the performances as a whole are so strong that it is presented so seamlessly as not to be an issue. It is a delight to see Joe Pesci back on screen, a true pleasure to see De Niro – after all that Dirty Grandpa shite – back on the top of his form. And as for Mr Pacino – the man fucking owns this film!
And if this is the last gangster epic that Martin Scorsese ever makes – well, there are considerably worse ways to bow out, sir, than “The Man Who Paints Houses.” Or whatever it’s called.
The Irishman plays the LFF – as the Closing Night Gala - on 13 October. For more info go to https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff/Online/