I love Martin Scorsese. Let’s just start with that. The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, The Departed, Casino. All of them are somewhere in the list of my top 100 favorite movies. So, every time that Scorsese comes out with a new film, I’m excited about it, regardless. However, when I heard originally that Scorsese was bringing the old band back together, the band being himself, Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci, I was delighted. Also, knowing that Al Pacino was going to be directed by Scorsese for the first time made the prospect of The Irishman all the more exciting. There was a lot of mystery surrounding The Irishman. We knew that it was a mob movie with some of the best actors to portray mobsters out there, but I purposely kept my knowledge to a minimum going in because I wanted to be surprised. I’m glad I didn’t watch the trailer or give myself any foreknowledge of the film because the surprise was pleasant.
“…chronicles approximately 50 years of Sheeran’s life and all the gory details therein.”
Robert Deniro plays the titular character, the real life Frank Sheeran, who a part of the Bufalino crime family of Pennsylvania. A family led by Russell Bufalino, portrayed by Joe Pesci in his first appearance on the big screen in nearly ten years. In the old days, unions around the country held close ties with the mafia, particularly the Teamsters Union led by the legendary Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The Irishman chronicles approximately 50 years of Sheeran’s life and all the gory details therein.
Sheeran starts out stealing meat from a truck he was driving and selling them at a discount to restaurants. One of the restaurants is owned by Felix DeTullio (Bobby Cannavale), who is in cahoots with the Bufalino family as well as Angelo Bruno (Harvey Keitel), head of the Philadelphia crime family. When Sheeran finally gets in trouble for stealing the meat, Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano), Russell’s brother, defends him in court and afterward, Sheeran starts doing odd jobs for Russell, all while remaining part of the Teamsters, which leads to his eventual linking up with Hoffa.
The Irishman is 209 minutes long, so there’s a lot of ground covered that I couldn’t even begin to summarize in this review. The film divulges the mafia’s supposed involvement in John F. Kennedy’s election, as well as Hoffa’s hatred of the family. It covers when Hoffa first goes to jail. There’s a particularly wonderful scene in jail when Hoffa’s eating ice cream and is interrupted by Anthony Provenzano/Tony Pro (Stephen Graham, who most famously played Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire), a Caporegime of the Genovese crime family and another high ranking teamster. Tony Pro and Jimmy Hoffa cause a lot of trouble for all the families and eventually leave Frank Sheeran with one of the hardest jobs of his life, theoretically. It is entirely debatable whether or not this event happened in reality, but for the sake of the film, it doesn’t matter.