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Film Review: “The Irishman” (2019) ★★★★★


We don’t have to go far to realize that corruption is a part of politics. It just has different names such as endorsement, giving away gifts to political parties, bribery, nepotism and so on. It is by itself appalling. But imagine what happens when politics crosses with the mafia? With the group of individuals that control who should get one position or another? And, even better, who will play according to the rules and who will not?

Based on true events, “The Irishman” follows a notorious mob hitman, Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a veteran of World War II, who, while sitting in a nursing home, recounts the event that took place in the past; including his participation in war and how he turns from a delivery man into a hitman. But the most important event he shares is his friendship with Jim Hoffa (Al Pacino) and the hard choice he needed to make – to fulfill the last order of his direct boss in order to end what his close circle wanted. An end that was just the beginning of the most defining moment in the mafia world that will turn everything upside down.

The film begins with Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, first a truck driver who would deliver meat to a local restaurant. An accidental meeting with don Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) marks the beginning of a life-long friendship that eventually will make Frank switch his profession from a truck driver to a painter – a man who, without hesitation, will kill every person Bufalino will point at. But when he meets James Hoffa, an American labor union leader who served as the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, complications in their relationship begin to develop that will eventually unfold in a dramatic way. While the aging Frank shares his life story with the audience, the viewer will get a chance to experience a rare feeling of satisfaction while drawn into the world of politics, corruption, killing, betrayal with no chance for redemption.

Directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman” revives the same feeling you might have had while you previewed Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Goodfather” or Brian De Palma’s “Scarface”. As soon as it starts, there will be no doubt in you that you’re about to watch an instant classic. Scorsese offers a master class in filmmaking that turns his piece into more than just a gangster film. But the film would not be as great as it was if not for Thelma Schoonmaker’s masterful editing that really misses nothing at all. Every scene is so organic, natural, and real, you will think that you’re a part of that world. Editing like this is what makes a film to be called a film, otherwise, it’s just a failed artwork with no inspiration.

In the end, “The Irishman” is not that type of film we, critics, should spell out every single detail. Scorsese’s film is about the experience, feelings, and the golden era. It touches upon many conflicting subject matters including the dirty universe of politics that just got worse over time. Superb performances from the entire cast, direction, and screenwriting will certainly put the film on top of the pedestal that will be difficult to beat by any incoming gangster film.

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