The Irishman

Nowadays, young people, they don’t know who Jimmy Hoffa was. They don’t have a clue. I mean, maybe they know that he disappeared or something, but that’s about it. But back then, there wasn’t nobody in this country who didn’t know who Jimmy Hoffa was. 

The Irishman, Frank Sheeran

One of the perks of going back to grad school is having a winter break again. Although the majority of the time has been spent with family and traveling, I am getting to catch up on Netflix. The Irishman is one of the first movies I watched after finals and I couldn’t have been happier with my choice.

“I heard you paint houses.” According to Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, those were the first words Jimmy Hoffa said to him when he was hired as a mobster hitman. Martin Scorsese’s recent project brings to life the world of Sheeran and his involvement with Hoffa and the Bufalino crime family. The Irishman is Sheeran’s true story based on Charles Brandt’s 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses.

Scorsese does not disappoint. The film is three and a half hours long with no superfluous scenes. Joe Pesci returns to form portraying mob boss Russell Bufalino. He could command the room by a simple glance. Robert De Niro, at 75, convincingly plays Frank. The film brings together De Niro and Al Pacino whose friendship off-screen carries over to their on-screen characters. Ray Romano, Harvey Keitel, and Anna Paquin performances were poignant and evocative.

The film begins and ends with a lonely, aged De Niro in a nursing home reminiscing of gritty 1950s Philadelphia. Though the film goes back and forth between the present and the past few decades, it is never confusing or leaves the viewer with questions. Although the film does leave you with a feeling of sadness, particularly surrounding one of his daughters, Peggy (Anna Paquin), I believe it was a strategic decision for us to feel what is was like to be in Frank’s life.

Historians continue to debate whether or not Sheeran’s account is accurate. If it is, he was a part of crucial moments in American history spanning several decades. The Irishman tells a haunting story with some of the most powerful names in Hollywood. “The Irishman” survived the job of “painting houses” and leaves us with a harrowing tale of how he did just that.

Let me know if you’ve seen it and what you thought!

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