Martin Scorsese, the undoubted king of the gangster genre, returned to his home turf with this sprawling story of Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran, a key figure in the American mafia.
Based on the 2004 memoir I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, and viewed through the prism of Sheeran’s (Robert De Niro) memories of his criminal past, The Irishman used state-of-the-art visual effects to ‘de-age’ its cast, taking them from their 70s through to their 30s. The gambit allowed Scorsese to bring together a megawatt cast, all on exceptional form: the former Goodfellas pairing of De Niro and Joe Pesci (who came out of retirement here for Scorsese), alongside Harvey Keitel, Stephen Graham, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano.
Al Pacino, meanwhile, plays Jimmy Hoffa, and delivers a monumental performance in his first film for Scorsese. The many two-handers between Pacino’s Hoffa and De Niro’s Sheeran form the emotional heart of a film which acts as a tragic coda to a trilogy that started with the exuberance of Goodfellas, reached middle age in Casino, and finally arrives at the end of things with The Irishman.