It’s quite obvious that director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro care so much about The Irishman. The pair of American legends pour their talents, mystique, credibility and reputation into this true mob tale of Frank Sheeran, a veteran attempting to find his way back into home country life as a truck driver when his sputtering vehicle leads him to a backroads encounter with Russell Bufalino.
The well-dressed man is wise and kind.
The driver is back on track.
A lifetime of give-and-take has begun.
Sometimes it seems Scorsese has decided to show us every turn in this 3-hour, 29-minute mob epic that has both the old-time feel and the modern-day distinction of being shown in the theaters and on sponsoring institution Netflix at the sane time.
I watched it on a living room flat screen with a multi-generational family throng.
None of us will ever get that 3 1/2 hours back.
This is not The Godfather, original or II or III that followed. Mario Puzo’s novel with Don Corleone had more oomph than this real-live tale of teamster union boss Jimmy Hoffa and the tangled web of underworld life that spooled around him. This is not even GoodFellas, which after that Scorsese pumped full of mob family vigor and enthusiasm for business and in-house relationships.
This meanders along, trying in far-spaced scenes to get us to empathize with the heart and of a guy who wants to feel good about serving his two families –– as in blood lines and chosen loyalties –– but sees no problem with taking his gun out to take care of what he sees as his responsibilities.
There are some good things about The Irishman. Joe Pesci offers a splendid performances as Pennsylvania mob family boss Bufalino, a guy who rules with a soft voice by steel will. Al Pacino owns the role of Hoffa, shown as a manic man who’s ego nets his prison term and mob sentence that comes when he’s released. Ray Romano keeps it suitably solid as a needed family attorney.
De Niro’s Sheeran, though, remains the moral core throughout as the movie zigs through his 1950s introduction to the mob players and zags as his union duties and obligations to Hoffa escalate.
It all seems to take too dang long to happen, though.
Sort of like Scorsese and De Niro just had to make it a 3 1/2 hour movie because, you, know, they’re Scorsese and De Niro.
Murky, too. Our generations sat in that big living room and tried to help each other pinpoint years and characters, things that could have been put in sharper focus by script and direction.
By the time we got to confessions and resolutions, they fell on my deaf ears.