Despite being based on a biography filled with well known credibility challenges, actors in their late seventies trying pull off playing their character in their late 30’s, and a three and one-half hour runtime – Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman works. The Irishman is flawed, but works.
The Irishman is a film that reveals many colorful and memorable details about the organization and individuals involved with The Mob and Unions in the United States in the latter half of the 20th Century.
The Irishman clearly benefits from a heavyweight Director and star-studded cast including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel.
However the real foundation for the film’s success is Steven Zaillian’s script created from Charles Brandt’s biography of Frank Sheeran – I Heard You Paint Houses. Zaillian (AAN Awakenings, AAW Schindler’s List, AAN Gangs of New York, AAN Moneyball) serves up a rich script where each of the stars and supporting characters gets their time in the spotlight. I should qualify my statement – as it only really applies to the male actors.
The Irishman is a film about another era, using the successful movie making technique of another as well. In The Irishman women are portrayed at best, as Props. Women in The Irishman are not imagined using 21st Century sensibilities. Women and their role in the life of organized crime during this period is not explored in any real detail – except for Frank’s relationship with his youngest daughter. While the role of Peggy is intriguing, it has few lines and may well be kept ominous deliberately.
Jeff’s Notes and Other Worthless Trivia
As most of you know I am from Detroit. I watched this film knowing I have indirect and in a few instances direct association with the people and families involved in this story. However I was a little kid during much of the period and a teenager when Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. While it would be easy to overstate what was known during this time – I barely knew anything as it related to the workings of the Mob.
Growing up in Grosse Pointe, the Giacalone, Tocco, and Bufalino kids were acquaintances and friends. They acted no different than the rest of us – no better, no worse.
The challenges grew as I got older. My Dad was the Managing Editor of the Detroit News – the largest paper in Detroit and largest evening paper the United States. My friend in elementary School was Bill Giacalone. his father (Vito) was reputed to be head of the Mafia in Detroit.