English Review – The Irishman (2019)


Besides its demonstration of an inevitable sorrow of parenting failure, The Irishman, ultimately through De Niro’s character, at last depicts that even you certain there’s none to haunt you, everything feels still.

A Youtube channel named Cinefix declared The Irishman as their 2019’s favorite movie as they said that the entire filmography of Martin Scorsese has been building towards this very moment. A line I completely agree. 

The comprehensiveness of its story of biopic-history, the length of the movie, and especially the formation of the cast are telling you that The Irishman indeed has the ambition, the indulgence, the combination Scorsese would love most. It is like he wanted it happens for a long time and finally is.

We back again with another mobster story. Here Scorsese through adapted screenplay Steven Zaillian has taken from a novel “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt, tells a complete life of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a delivery truck driver turned hitman in Philadelphia 1950s. Brought to you in a loud then solemn rendition.

To tell an extensive journey, you have to come up with a coming-of-age schema. But unlike Goodfellas where Ray Liotta had to have another actor to play his younger self, Scorsese here entirely rely on Robert De Niro single-handedly equipped with de-aging VFX even though often less effective (he still appears like 50 years old for 30-something old Frank)

In short, Frank met Russel Bufalino (Joe Pesci), the head of the Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family who impressed by him when he refused to give any name after accused of theft. Frank welcomed, being so much loyal “houses painter”, and introduced to Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), the famous man behind the wheel of International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a growing union.

Later, the two befriend even their families got close. Frank became a rare person that could go that close with Jimmy, as he trusted him only. 

On the journey, Jimmy confronts some serious threat of being arrested with these Kennedy’s things around the country. He had been tried but never found guilty for several minor crime wrongdoings, but finally convicted in 1964 for jury tampering.

It’s a sort of dilemma because, on the other side, Russel is a pro-Kennedy. Both Russel and Jimmy know that they’re on the opposite side but still respect each other using the help of Frank. And Frank himself? well, he never said no, always succumbed to any order, a tolerant between the very adamant Russel and Jimmy.

Well, The Irishman storyline is sure much lofty than that. For some reason not for everyone since it has a dense politic subject and crowd character presences (the star including Harvey Keitel, Stephen Graham and Anna Paquin). But actually, it’s because of the 209 minutes running time that makes it unforgivable for audiences.

And in fact, that’s including me too. God, it’s so exhausting. At times it’s becoming unbearable. Not because the story is not worth it, instead it is a big story, particularly important, and opens a new perspective of history. However, one thing that sinks me best, one that makes me admire it, is its very ending. It immersed greatly through anyone who’s watching it. It’s visceral, real sad, and causing a relevant emptiness. 

The life path you take, the action you pick, has a long-term cause. The old Frank looks behind, contemplating everything. He did know what he did and he did know the consequences. His reverie tells you whether it could be changed, and he did know that it can’t. You don’t know how fast time goes by until you get there. Exactly, The Irishman really makes me afraid of getting old.

Martin Scorsese has been overwhelming the industry for decades. We are getting older while following his films. He and his beloved actors. In an example, we’ve seen the young energetic De Niro in Mean Streets, and 46 years later (yes that’s forty-six!), we see the aged version but yet soulful De Niro still in his prominent acting here, more or less. 

All of it has done us thinking, maybe The Irishman is a symbolism we need to aware that these gentlemen themselves are reaching the end. The Irishman has made us sad, but to know that this kind of elemental brave cinema is going edge, has made us left sorrowful.