Almost ten years in the making, Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” has finally come to fruition and hit screens. But it almost never happened. No one wanted to finance the picture—extra expensive, because in the ensuing years, the leads, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, became too old to play convincing younger versions of themselves. Enter costly de-aging technology to convincingly pull off actors who could play versions of themselves 40 years younger. Netflix, already flush with deep pockets, said yes, and the rest is history.
Sort of. Scorsese recently said that getting Al Pacino for the role of Jimmy Hoffa was initially tough (though he may be being extra modest). “I’d been wanting to work with Al for years. Francis Coppola introduced me to him in 1970,” Scorsese said at Friday night’s AFI FEST “conversation with Martin Scorsese” in Los Angeles (via Yahoo). “Then he’s in ‘Godfather’ one and two, and he’s in the stratosphere,” Scorsese said. “For me, Al was always something unreachable. We even tried to make a film in the 1980s but couldn’t get the financing for it. I said, ‘What’s he like to work with?’ Bob said, ‘Oh, he’s great. You’ll see.’”
The final product is long (3 and half hours), funny, familiar in the gangster milieu, and elegiac in its somber consideration of the toll that violence and murder can take on the soul of a person. In our NYFF review, Joe Blessing called “The Irishman,” a “new gangster epic” with a “deeper sense of soul and morality.” It’s a far cry from the “theme park”-like Marvel movies Scorsese has been admonishing of late.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci star in Martin Scorsese’s THE IRISHMAN, an epic saga of organized crime in post-war America told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran, a hustler, and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th century. Spanning decades, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organized crime: its inner workings, rivalries, and connections to mainstream politics.
“The Irishman” is in theaters now and debuts on Netflix on November 27.