Martin Scorsese has made a triumphant return to his glory old days with his magnificent masterpiece The Irishman. Sprawling, ambitious, multi-layered, elegiac, alternately epic and intimate, and audaciously framed, fellow septaguanarians Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino spectacularly rolled back their years with bravura filmmaking and acting masterclass. While Mean Streets remains the most emblematic Marty gangster film for me, this is stylistically closer to Goodfellas and Casino – forming a trilogy of sorts – in that they’re based on real-life accounts, are narratively similar (mobsters looking back at their rise and fall) and set against expansive historical-temporal canvases. Adapted from Charles Brandt’s euphemistically-titled narrative nonfiction I Heard You Paint Houses, the movie – riveting every minute of its 3 ½ hour length – chrocicles the life of narrator and central protagonist Frank Sheeran (a tour de force De Niro), a WWII veteran who becomes a Mafia enforcer and labour leader, along with an engrossing parallel account of the world of organized crime in general as well as watershed political events through the 60s and 70s – the Bay of Pigs debacle, the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK’s presidency and assassination, the Watergate Scandal, etc. Sheeran’s eventful life, moral ambiguity and the burden of crimes and violence that he carries to his graves, and the timeless clannish themes of loyalty, brotherhood, honour, guilt, betrayal and omerta, played out through his evolving relationships with Mafiosi boss Russell Bufalino (a remarkably restrained Pesci) and the infamous labour union legend Jimmy Hoffa (a boisterous Pacino). The fabulous ensemble cast includes a terrific Stephen Graham and Hervey Keitel in a cameo, while the tonal shift from vigorous to mournful was aided by the terrific soundtrack.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Genre: Crime Drama/Gangster Film/Biopic