‘The Irishman’ is a solid ‘Goodfellas’ remake

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One of the most hyped films of this year is Martin Scorsese’s latest film “The Irishman.” Based on the novel “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt, the film follows the life of union leader and mobster Frank Sheeran and his involvement with notorious union boss Jimmy Hoffa.  

Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Sheeran is spotless. He makes a stone cold killer seem sympathetic and does it in style. Al Pacino is perfect as the loud-mouthed and hot-headed Hoffa. Pacino is able to make Hoffa menacing without making him cartoonish, which is a stereotype of Pacino’s recent performances. The return of Scorsese favorite Joe Pesci is a nice addition to the film, especially since Pesci has been semi-retired for two decades.  

What caught my attention the most about “The Irishman” was its similarities to Scorsese’s 1990 film “Goodfellas.” Everything from the panning cameras to the style of music used to even the narration style seemed so similar to “Goodfellas.” It’s almost as if “The Irishman” was a 21st century adaptation of the film.  

What sets “The Irishman” apart from “Goodfellas,” however, is the increased attention to character development toward the end of the film. Scorsese is able to flesh out Sheeran towards the end of the film and display the evolution of his character. That’s not to say Scorsese ignored character arcs in “Goodfellas,” he was just able to do more with “The Irishman” since it is over an hour longer than “Goodfellas.” 

Speaking of the runtime, it was a bit too long. Standing at three and a half hours, this is the longest film Scorsese has ever made, and it feels like it. The pacing is great for about the first half of the film. It is lively and everything runs smoothly. The second half however slows down dramatically, and it starts to feel like a three and a half hour movie. 

Despite the pacing and similarity to “Goodfellas,” “The Irishman” is a standout film. The dialogue is sharp and captivating, the editing from Thelma Schoonmaker is deserving of an award and the technology used to de-age the actors is seamlessly integrated into the film. On a technical level, this film is flawless. 

As entertaining as “The Irishman” is, it would have been interesting to see Scorsese dive more into the effects mob life has on the families of mobsters. It was briefly demonstrated in this film towards the end; however, it felt shallow since Scorsese did not dive deep enough into the matter earlier in the film.  

While “The Irishman” may not be Scorsese’s best film, it is still worth your time. Considering that Scorsese is 77 and is still producing quality films is a testament to how important an experienced director is for a film. Few directors can say they have classic films, let alone multiple classics. Even if Scorsese makes a film that is not an immediate masterpiece, he still produces a product that has people thinking about its content well after the credits roll. With “The Irishman,” that’s exactly what audiences got. 

Rating: 4.5/5 

Thumbnail photo courtesy of @theirishmanfilm Instagram.


Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at ian.ward@uconn.edu

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