The Irishman | Gangster’s Elegy

Martin Scorsese’s latest film revisits old ground from a new perspective.

One of the great draws of the thug life in cinema are the beguiling portrayals of violence, status or money. Even when the protagonists aren’t glorified, it’s hard to deny the appeal – they may be a monsters, but they’re larger than life. Having defined the genre like no other with movies like Mean Streets, Goodfellas and Casino, director Martin Scorsese is no stranger to the criminal allure – yet his latest, The Irishman, has a distinctly different feel. Rather than an allegory on power, loyalty and family, it’s a tale of betrayal, alienation and regret. Scorsese has aged. And so have his characters.

This picture almost didn’t make it to the screen: When Scorsese pitched it a decade ago, studios weren’t interested, until Netflix eventually allowed the director to make his longest film to date. Following professional hitman Frank Sheeran’s career with the mob and subsequent partnership with infamous teamster Jimmy Hoffa, The Irishman chronicles four decades of American history through the titular Frank’s eyes, from the Cuban missile crisis to the Kennedy assassination to Watergate.

Choices leave their marks

The settings are familiar – the rainy, moonlit streets of Little Italy, the bright lights of night clubs and the not-so-glamorous prison yards. However, the context has changed. Unlike Goodfellas’ opulent excess or the shallow glamour of Casino, The Irishman is far more introspective, a sober reminder that life and its choices leave their marks – the solitude of guilt, the pain of estrangement and the inevitability of death. But despite the many tragedies Sheeran has seen and caused, it is losing his daughter Peggy’s affection that hurts him the most: Frank’s futile pursuit of Peggy’s forgiveness leaves him isolated and rejected.

Told in just under three-and-a-half hours, Scorsese ingeniously juggles three narratives with cut-aways, voice-overs, freeze frames and tight editing, keeping your attention throughout the long runtime. For leads Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino – digitally de-aged for the early scenes in the plot – the film is a return to form, with all three finding nuance and emotion in roles they’ve come to personify over their long careers.

In life as in film, age begets wisdom –and both Scorsese and his cast have clearly grown. Same setting. Same People. New Story.

 

Sophie Spiegelberger
Born in New York, raised in Moscow, Sophie now lives in Vienna where she is completing her studies in Political Science. She works as a freelance graphic designer and photographer and is a communications strategist for a congressional campaign and Democrats Abroad Austria.

 

You like local independent journalism in English? So do we!

To keep providing you with current news, insights, opinion and Schmäh about our shared hometown, we need your help.
We chose to provide our daily coverage for free, because we believe in equal access to information. And we want to be independent from our advertisers, so we can deliver the news that you want. With your help, we can keep giving you the open, independent journalism you deserve.

Don’t let the advertisers win!

Metropolitans
 
Advertisers

If you’re able, please support Metropole today from as little as €1
or choose an amount:




RECENT Articles

Donald Tusk’s Clear Voice

Welcoming to Scotland, the perennial European is not about to leave the political stage.

“Mein Fall” | Austrian Writer Tells of Sexual Abuse

As a choirboy at the Zwettl Monastery in the 1960s, novelist Josef Haslinger was regularly assaulted by his superiors. Now he wrote about it.

Passing the Baton

The Vienna Theatre Project meditates on MLK’s last night on earth in Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop.”

5 Anti-Valentine’s Day Movies | It’s Difficult to Love

If the most saccharine of holidays is starting to get to you, here are five sobering – some would say more realistic – portrayals of human emotion.

Keeping It Together

Ken Loach takes on the human cost of the gig economy in his latest film, "Sorry We Missed You".

Doskozil’s Big Win For the SPÖ in Burgenland

After a disappointing year, the Social Democrats won a whopping 50% of the vote in last week’s state elections.

2019 Was a Record-Breaking Year in Vienna Tourism

Visitors are pleased with Vienna as a travel destination, with 9 out of 10 stating they would recommend it to others.

16 Viennese Idioms That Make No Sense Whatsoever

The Viennese sometimes have their own special way of using the German language, especially when they lapse into dialect. It is often a mixture of gleeful malice, eloquence, flattery and charm.