The Irishman Film Review
In case you haven’t watched The Irishman yet, we suggest you come back after four hours as there’s a few spoilers here. We don’t want to ruin this for you, but if you’re one of those that appreciates spoilers we hope we’ll make you more excited to see the film.
Before we move on, The Irishman is rated R for pervasive language and strong violence. So if you have a child under 17 make sure you accompany them and learn more about the film before watching it.
Martin’s Scorcese’s The Irishman
Brought to life by the lens of the legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, The Irishman voices the story of an Irish World War II veteran turned hitman, Frank Sheeran.
A tale told through a series of flashbacks, the film centers around an elderly Sheeran recalling his time as a teamster (truck driver) who got involved with mob boss Russell Bufalino, played by Joe Pesci. Frank’s involvement with Bufalino puts him in the orbit of teamster president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). But as time moves along, the relationship between Hoffa and the mob becomes strained and complicated, leaving Sheeran caught in the middle.
“I Heard You Paint Houses”
The inspiration behind the major motion picture came from Charles Brandt’s book, I Heard You Paint Houses, that chronicles the life of Frank Sheeran as he confesses his crimes while working with the Bufalino family.
The title of the book is the biggest cryptic phrase in itself! I Heard You Paint Houses is actually a mob slang that means killing someone and having their blood all over their house. Frank Sheeran admitted initially believing that the phrase “I heard you paint houses” meant giving the house a paint job, and who wouldn’t? But when the time came to do the mobsters’ dirty work, he understood where that phrase originated from.
Other mob terms included “candy” being code for explosives and “going to school” actually meaning going to prison.
Scorsese’s Magic Touch
Martin Scorsese has truly left a mark on this film. What makes The Irishman standout from movies like Casino and Good fellas is its comic effect. Whenever we’re introduced to a new character, we’re given a short description of their name, what they did, and how they died- for instance one character was shot in the face eight times and another was shot dead in an alley.
Rather than having a three-and-a-half-hour run time filled with action and violence, the first half of the movie is filled with funny scenes, such as the infamous Schuylkill River with enough weapons in it “to arm a small country,” as all weapons were thrown in there after they were used to kill someone.
The Irishman Goes Digital with CGI Effects
Did you know that The Irishman happens to be one of the very few films that have incorporated special de-aging effects? Because Sheeran is sitting in a nursing home and recalling the story of three infamous mobsters from decades ago, Martin Scorsese opted to use CGI technology rather than going through the hassle of finding young actors that look like De Niro, Pesci and Pacino. In fact, the 200-million-dollar budget of the film was largely attributed to the use of computer-generated face lift throughout the entire movie.
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal
The film is largely about the friendship and loyalty between the three infamous mobsters, but yet it also depicts how they turn on a dime against each other.
Sheeran is seen wearing a gold ring, one that symbolizes the strength of his relationship with Russell Bufalino. Sheeran, Bufalino and Philadelphia mob boss Angelo Bruno are known to be the only three people who possess these rings which in return reflect Russell Bufalino’s trusted inner circle. A cherished position of Sheeran, it expresses where his loyalty lies and the price he had to pay to maintain it.
Frank’s loyalty to the mob affected his home life and jeopardized the relationship he had with his daughter Peggy. Also, his loyalty and friendship were tested when he was asked to kill his close friend and mentor Jimmy Hoffa after the fallout the mobs had with Russel Bufalino. After a long internal struggle, Frank Sheeran chose to paint Hoffa’s house, maintaining his loyalty to his godfather Bufalino.
Although both "I Heard You Paint Houses" and "The Irishman" revealed that Frank Sheeran murdered Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, who vanished in 1975, the reality is police are not quite convinced that the events Sheeran is claiming are correct. To this day the disappearance remains a mystery and whether one should take Sheeran’s words for it or not, remains a doubt.