Slip on your sweats and get comfy cause this movie is a LONG one. Beginning in an old folks home, we are introduced to Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro). Wheelchair bound with hard-to-miss bling, he tells his story of how he became a “house painter.”
As an ordinary father and truck driver, Frank meets Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) by chance, changing the course of his life. As Frank develops relationships with many and murders twice that, he draws a parallel that it is no different than his time in the military, “just like the army, you follow orders, do the right thing, and get rewarded.” Fear and family are the biggest motivators. But Frank seems to lose himself in the idea that what he is doing is helping his family, never thinking about how he his actions are simultaneously hurting them.
The movie has many subtleties, a nod to how perceptive the director, Martin Scorsese, challenges his audience to be. Flashing periodically between Frank’s past and present tells the story well without being unnecessarily confusing or causing audience whiplash. Often, one judges a gangster in a black and white way, but Frank’s story shows the slippery slope he unexpectedly finds himself on, humanizing the notorious hitman. Moments of audience laughter is genuine and nothing felt like a lead.
Ray Romano is Bill Bufalino, the lawyer spending decades to keep Frank out of jail. Believable but not overly involved, he plays as secondary cast nicely, allowing the trifecta of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci to fill the screen. The film is long and elaborate, all scenes providing content and interest to the story line and the audience in general. A few scenes show famous gangsters, a still frame, and a quick sentence about their (usually untimely) death. The film also dips its toe into the Kennedy assassination.
Moviegoer Greg shares, “I really liked it! I enjoyed seeing De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci all together. Those are are all the main actors from the gangster story period. They did really well de-aging the actors in their flashbacks. I also felt like Scorsese was showing all those other directors how you do it. It was a well thought out film.” Everything from costumes, accents, and old fashion gangster manners (timeliness!) were implemented to represent the period authentically.
Seeing the Netflix film on the big screen is something special, but make yourself comfortable for the nearly three and a half hours. Currently the film is in one of the smaller theaters at Village Theatre and was sold out, so go early and get your popcorn ahead of time.
Movie times: click here
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama
Run Time: 3 hours and 29 minutes
Directors: Martin Scorsese
Actors: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Rating: Rated R for pervasive language and strong violence
Fun Fact: At three hours and thirty minutes, this is the longest film Martin Scorsese has directed, and the longest mainstream film released in over twenty years.
Fun Fact 2 (there are so many!): According to Deadline, before accepting taking on the role of Russell Bufalino, Joe Pesci refused multiple times to come out of retirement in order to appear in this film. Some sources say the actual number of refusals was fifty.