Three people can keep a secret, only when two of them are dead.The Irishman
Release Date: September 27th, 2019. Dir: Martin Scorsese.
Summary: In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran gets involved with Russell Bufalino and his Pennsylvania crime family. As Sheeran climbs the ranks to become a top hit man, he also goes to work for Jimmy Hoffa — a powerful Teamster tied to organized crime.
This movie has been on my to-watch list since its release date. The reason? Its length. I was curious as to what story required a run time of 210 minutes to tell. The truth is, I understand the necessity for the length of this movie, but I still think there were parts where I definitely think the length served as a detriment to the story. The plot line became too convoluted with flashbacks and backstories to be able to keep it straight without paying close attention and to some extent, having prior knowledge of the historical events that are portrayed. This is not a movie that a novice to the world of gangster movies can just jump into; I felt that the movie required a little bit of familiarity with terms and people in order to understand some of the references hidden within the dialogue.
Robert De Niro is a widely acclaimed actor. I’ve seen him adapt many different personas and effectively play them all. But, this movie makes it clear that his true niche is in mafia movies. These roles don’t feel like De Niro is taking on someone else, but rather, they feel as though he is settling into a familiar chair and letting his true self run wild. As Frank Sheeran, he’s not a man of many words and when he does speak, they consist of cold reassurance. De Niro serves as a house painter – a slang for hitman/triggerman – and this is a powerful role. This role requires a bit of cold calculation and De Niro depicts this beautifully. If I didn’t know he was acting, I would truly believe that De Niro is somehow involved in a gang in the present day. Al Pacino is the other star of this movie. There is something about Pacino’s performance that makes you believe that he is Jimmy Hoffa reincarnated. His demeanor in this movie inspires loyalty and fear at the same time. The chemistry between him and De Niro is what truly sells the movie and makes the ending a little unbelievable.
I call movies like this one conspiracy theory movies. These are the kind of movies that attempt to rewrite history or expose some unknown part of the story. The original history of Jimmy Hoffa is that he mysteriously disappeared in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1975 and was declared dead in 1982. His body was never found. The main point of this movie is to describe the events leading up to the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa through the eyes of one of his closest friends. This movie is also based on a novel about Frank Sheeran’s life and his claim that he killed Hoffa. The most interesting part of this is that the movie starts with him recounting the story to someone. I thought that he might be recounting the story to the author of the novel because that’s the overall feel that the movie had. It would also explain all the sidetracking. In a novel, this would come across well, but in the movie, it wasn’t successful.
The strongest part of this movie to me were the scenes after Sheeran kills Hoffa. It’s easy to claim that Sheeran was responsible for the death of Hoffa but a claim alone doesn’t necessarily answer the question of what happened to his body. This movie attempts to answer it and it does a good job of answering that question. It was also interesting to see how Sheeran ages and how he lives with the guilt of killing his friend. Throughout the movie, Sheeran feels more like a robot and this ending gives him a humane feeling. He’s not just a house-painter; he’s a father; he’s a husband. This life that he chose for himself was to take care of others; it may not have been the best way to do so, but the ultimate sacrifice he made for his family was his humanity. It’s almost heartbreaking to see where that got him.
This is a movie that makes you weigh all options and for that fact, it is thoroughly enjoyable. I adored the history lessons and the peek into the mafia’s influence on Kennedy’s election. This movie plays into many different conspiracy theories and subtly attempts to answer questions that the public and historians alike are fascinated in discerning the answer to.
TLDR: If you can handle the length and the intricacy of the details, this movie is a definite must-watch, if only to see De Niro and Pacino prove that they are the ultimate gangsters.