It’s 2019 and after a 60-year career in directing, Martin Scorsese has finally been able to assemble an Avenger’s level cast in his mobster film The Irishman, which quite frankly, is long overdue. While the cast is certainty the films greatest strength, another is Scorsese’s use of time as a theme. It’s used almost as a statement about his own career and those of his actors. But more importantly, time is what The Irishman is all about.
Like the film Forest Gump, the story of The Irishman is centered around a main character (Frank Sheeran portrayed by Robert DeNiro) and the major events that shape his life as he narrates them to the audience. Scorsese weaves in a slew of historical events and characters throughout Frank’s life. He allows the audience to experience how those events and relationships affect his life up to the very last shot of the film.
Frank slowly rises through the ranks of the mob after being befriended and guided by Russel Bufalino (Joe Pesci). His relationships with Russel and later Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) are given ample amounts of time to develop (the film is 3.5 hours) over a span of decades. On that note, the film is long and feels long. Scorsese utilizes every minute to develop Frank’s relationships. It almost seems as if it’s a sort of swan song for him. You get the sense that if this was Scorsese’s last film in the mob genre, he would be perfectly content with it.
People, Historical Events and Different Paths
Throughout the film, we get a sense of the toll Frank’s work and profession takes on his family. The mob and those connected to it, develop a love and admiration for Frank. The opposite could be said for his family who eventually drift apart from him. Scorsese pulls no punches and we see just how pathetic and seemingly miserable life becomes for Frank. He is alone and longs for a family who wants nothing to do with him. A life of prestige within the mob has ultimately left him with nothing of value at the end of his road. Time has not been kind to him.
While on the surface, the film seems to have nothing in common with Robert Zemeckis’ Forest Gump, we see how people, historical events and time, have shaped Forest’s life, just as we see how those elements have shaped Frank Sheeran’s in TheIrishman. Ultimately, Forest and Frank end up in completely different circumstances. Both are shaped in the end by relationships, the events in their lives and the passage of time.
The Irishman is available on Netflix. Check it out now!