News Flash! They’ve let out the Irishman!
THE IRISHMAN ***1/2
Suffice it to say that for his latest film Martin Scorsese has brought together an acting triumvirate of giants in their full maturity – Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, amongst a huge cast of familiar faces. Just the trio’s expressions, movements and complete control of each scene is a cinematic gift. And then there is the atmosphere of the 70s, the details of the mob families, and the matter-of-fact act of the killings that create the hypnotic mood of the film.
His latest is based on an investigative book by Charles Brandt, “I Heard You Paint Houses” (mob jargon for a hit man), on the disappearance of the controversial Teamster Union leader Jimmy Hoffa, brilliantly portrayed by Al Pacino. But the crux of the film is the narration of the whole story by Frank Sheeran, the Irishman of the title, played by Scorsese’s choice actor, Robert DeNiro.
Sheeran is now a decrepit old man in a retirement home recalling his rise from a Teamster truck driver to a favorite hit man of the Philadelphia mob family, a rising star among the Teamsters and finally a confident of Hoffa’s. He’s also an observer of some of America’s history, including the Kennedys’ supposed connection to the Mob.
There’s a feel to a Martin Scorsese film that is so authentic that it could be called the American version of Italian neorealism. Especially when he deals with the crime world, starting off with “Mean Streets” in 1973 to “Goodfellas”, out to Las Vegas for “Casino”, or back to Boston for “The Departed”. All incredibly vicious, red-blooded American tales of the urban underbelly.
But then Scorsese has also done such genteel romances as “Age of Innocence”, down-to-earth Americana as “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, the spiritual “Kundun”, the financial blockbuster, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, and some brilliant documentaries on Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones “Shine a Light”. The man is a versatile master.
His 10th collaboration with DeNiro, this is one of Scorsese’s strongest films, and mercifully not as violent as its closest cousin, “Goodfellas”. But it is a hefty three and a half hours long – be prepared. It will certainly go to the Oscars in many categories, and I predict Pesci’s portrayal of a top Philly mobster will nab him a supporting actor’s Oscar.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.