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The Irishman: An Adieu by Scorsese?

Just when the world thought they had had enough of the ‘Italian-Mob’ based movies and shows, Martin Scorsese, The King of Crime genre, delivers us with the much awaited Netflix’s The Irishman. The Irishman delivers us another one of Scorsese’s masterpieces with our beloved actors like Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, etc. but with a tint of old-age on themselves.

Credits: Netflix LLC

The Irishman, directed by Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese, is based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa by Charles Brandt. The screenplay is written by Academy Award® winner Steven Zaillian and stars many Academy Award® winners like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci & Anna Paquin. The story begins in the 1950s, when a truck driver by the name of Frank Sheeran gets involved with a “made” man by the name of Russell Bufalino and his Pennsylvania Crime Family. The plot thickens as Sheeran, aka The Irishman, is shown to climb the ranks to become a top hitman and also goes to work for the well known Jimmy Hoffa who is a powerful Teamster with ties to the organized crime. The plot continues on to show the developments in the life of Frank Sheeran and the inevitable end he has to deal with when his life finally comes to an end.
The first few frames of the movie begin with an aged Robert De Niro (Frank Sheeran) sitting in a wheelchair at a Catholic convalescent home. The story is narrated by Sheeran to us as he flashes-back on his life which began as a truck driver delivering steaks and then blowing up cars and warehouses and then finally blowing up people for the “made” men and for his bosses. Although the movie might seem like any other of Scorsese’s mindless murders and crime related movies but The Irishman is actually not that at all. The Irishman is a tale of men who see murder as inevitable but eventually see it as a sign of failure and seek for grace within the arms of God.
As much as the world was looking forward to Robert De Niro and Al Pacino on the big screen, Joe Pesci’s return to the big screen was more to look forward to. Joe Pesci, who had retired from acting in 1999 with occasional cameos here-and-there but in Scorsese’s The Irishman, Pesci returns in somewhat a leading role and delivers a performance that will be remembered for more than a decade or two. His aging look didn’t stop him from being himself and giving us a performance, he once gave us in Goodfellas. From the hard-shelled gangster (in the beginning of the movie) to the shivering-shell of a man (towards the end of the movie), he stays top notch in his acting and forces us to praise all the Gods existing for his return from the retirement.

Scene from The Irishman (2019)
Image Credits: Netflix LLC

The Irishman seems like a goodbye by Martin Scorsese to this specific genre of movies. The characters undergoing a looming fear of mortality, a sense of self-righteousness about crime and the crushing guilt over the fallout on friends and family are the characteristics of a well-defined classic gangster movie. The Irishman accommodates all this but with a force of intensity so hard that you can not help but think that this might be a final goodbye by Martin Scorsese as he delivers us one last masterpiece from the bottom of his heart with a cast full of actors we have grown up to love and admire.

Yusuf Aziz
Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia

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Written by Yusuf Aziz

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