‘The Irishman’—A Scorsese Drama

Movie poster for Netflix original 'The Irishman.'

Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” is a mob drama that deals with the life and eventual death of union activist Jimmy Hoffa. And judging from the critical buzz surrounding the film “The Irishman” will be an Oscar contender. 

Scorsese, now 76, still has the power to spin compelling on screen dramas like “Taxi Driver,”“The Departed,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Shelter Island.”  And his directorial legacy continues in his latest film “The Irishman.”

The cast includes such high profile actors as Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa, International Brotherhood of Teamsters president Joe Pesci as Mafia don Russell Bufalino and Robert De Niro portraying Frank Sheeran, the “Irishman.”

Other key players in the cast are Harvey Keital, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale and Anna Paquin as one of Sheeran’s daughters who keeps her distance from her dad once she realizes what he does for a living.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian based his screenplay on Charles Brandt’s book “I Heard You Paint Houses” which is Mafia slang for being a hitman.

It’s a job that often leads to an untimely death like being shot in an alley or killed by a nail bomb detonated under your porch. 

In the case of Sheeran, he manages to survive well into his eighties, but in the end he lives alone in a nursing home, not with his family.   

Thanks to a computer generated process, the main characters start out as younger men who slowly age throughout the film. 

In the beginning Sheeran is a trucker who delivers meat to various locations.  After he meets Mafia don Bufalino he is encouraged to quit his old job and join the mob as an enforcer.

In later years Sheeran is introduced to Hoffa thanks to Bufalino. 

The two get along well together and their eventual working relationship in the Teamsters turns into a genuine personal friendship that endures until Hoffa’s untimely disappearance and death on July 30, 1982.

In the film, Hoffa comes across as a far more likable guy than Sheeran. In fact, during a Teamster’s gala, Sheeran’s daughter enjoys dancing with Hoffa on several occasions, but never shares the dance floor with her dad.

While many Mafia dons bite the dust during the course of the film, their demise is not handled in a grizzly manner that is uncomfortable for viewers to watch. Often, we just see the man’s portrait on screen with the cause of death printed below.

“The Irishman” has a running time of 3 hours, 30 minutes and is rated R for pervasive language and strong violence.