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The Irishman (15)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
MASTER of the gangster film Martin Scorsese returns to the genre he made his own in this epic mobster drama which explores the unsolved mystery of who killed US union leader Jimmy Hoffa.
President of the Teamsters Union, he had wide-ranging connections to the mob and organised crime. He was pardoned by president Richard Nixon in 1971 after being convicted for the jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud which ended his career.
He disappeared, never to be seen again, in July 1975, provoking umpteen theories.
This Netflix film is based on Charles Brandt’s 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, which details Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran’s (Robert De Niro) confessions to him about his past career as a hitman and what happened to Hoffa (Al Pacino).
It follows Sheeran, now a frail old man in his seventies, as he recalls his years working for the Bufalino crime family and its boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and his friendship with Hoffa.
He learnt to kill and take orders without question when he was stationed in Italy during WWII, which made him the perfect enforcer for the mob. No questions would be asked.
Written by Steven Zaillian, Sheeran’s story moves back and forth across decades in this slow- burning crime drama which reunites De Niro in his his ninth collaboration with Scorsese, Pacino and Pesci.
It is a masterclass in acting as these legends bring Zaillian’s script to nail-biting life, playing their characters from their thirties to their seventies due to the wonders of de-ageing technology which isn’t as distracting as I had feared.
This isn’t Goodfellas or Casino, though, and Scorsese doesn’t serve up anything groundbreaking or trailblazing, just a solid gangster film with an enviable cast which also includes Harvey Keitel and Bobby Cannavale.
Yet it’s running time of three-and-a-half hours feels overly long and a tad self-indulgent.
It is almost an hour in before Pacino makes his appearance as Hoffa, while female characters are poorly served.
Anna Paquin utters just one line as Sheeran’s daughter Peggy, a waste of this Oscar-winner.
It is gripping enough and can be streamed on Netflix so, if you want to avoid bladder issues, watch it at home.
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