The Irishman. 2019. USA. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Screenplay by Steve Zaillian. With Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino. DCP. 209 min.
Forgoing his trademark flashy camerawork, music cues, and intricate montages, Martin Scorsese delivers a somber masterpiece in The Irishman. Working from Steve Zaillian’s script (itself adapted from Charles Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses), Scorsese deftly weaves together multiple, decade-spanning story lines, all centered around Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a Philadelphia mob hit man who finds himself at the intersection of crime and power in mid-20th-century America. Sheeran works his way up the organized crime food chain, from union driver to working for boss Russel Bufalino (a mesmerizing Joe Pesci) to bodyguard and mob liaison for Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Joy, ostensibly derived from the ever-present envelopes of cash, or the layers of family that insulate each man, is almost completely absent from the characters’ lives. The film’s final third is an expertly crafted elegy to the loneliness of the aged gangster.