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410. The Irishman; movie review

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Title : 410. The Irishman; movie review
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Cert 15
209 mins
BBFC advice: Strong violence, language

Goodfellas is one of the favourite all-time films of both Mrs W and myself and Martin Scorsese is one of our most beloved directors, so we were hyped for The Irishman.
But why did he have to make it such an endurance test?
At only 31 minutes short of four hours, this is longer than any movie should be. Indeed, I was left wondering whether, knowing it was on Netflix, Scorsese expected most of his audience to watch it in instalments.
It certainly means that Mrs W will not be watching it nearly as many times as she has seen Goodfellas (I reckon about 20).
Of course, the truth is that The Irishman is top-notch film-making with a stellar cast but its length does dilute its impact.
It stars the ever-wonderful Robert De Niro as the title character, Frank Sheeran who was wrapped up in dubious activities of Jimmy Hoffa's union while also being affiliated to the Bufalino crime family.
Hoffa, played by Al Pacino, was one of the most powerful men in America during the 50s and 60s but his disappearance in 1975 remains unexplained.
Scorsese tries to lift the veil on the mystery with this adaptation of Charles Brandt's I Heard You Paint Houses.
The latter reference is to victims' blood being splattered on walls rather than a deftly handled brush of emulsion.
I digress. Sheeran is a truck driver who gets in with Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) after a chance meeting at a petrol station.
Bufalino has his fingers in more pies than Mr Kipling but never gets his hands really dirty.
That is where Sheeran comes in and is also soon helping Bufalino's pal Hoffa when he needs a bit of muscle.
Violence is as much to the fore as it was in Goodfellas but this time it is De Niro rather than Pesci who is executioner-in-chief.
Meanwhile, Hoffa is power-crazed, taking on anyone from the Kennedys downwards to ensure his place at the top of "his union".
The crux of the movie are the power games between Hoffa and Bufalino's contacts who include the very ambitious Tony Provenzano (Stephen Graham) and Sicilian mobster Angelo Bruno (Harvey Keitel).
The key players are, with the exception of Graham, portrayed by lauded actors who are in their late 70s or, in Pacino's case, 80s.
Therefore, because the story spans over decades, Scorsese leans on new technology to make the old fellas appear younger at relevant times.
I have to say it is very convincing.
But, unfortunately, it is also distracting - offering a layer which Goodfellas didn't need because that was when the director and actors were at the peak of their powers.
In The Irishman, they make a fair fist of trying to recreate their youth but fall just a tad short.

Reasons to watch: It's a cinematic moment in history
Reasons to avoid: Way too long

Laughs: A couple of chuckles
Jumps: None
Vomit: Yes
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 9/10

Did you know? Frank Sheeran said he first developed a callousness to the taking of human life during the Second World War. He claimed to have participated in numerous massacres and summary executions of German prisoners of war.

The final word. Martin Scorsese: "Ultimately, we decided, I think about nine years ago – we were in our late Sixties then and we realised we have to do one more picture." Esquire

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