What's Martin Scorsese's Final Gangster Flick 'The Irishman' All About?

What's Martin Scorsese's final gangster film, 'The Irishman' all about? The movie follows the journey of a titular character over many decades, and how organized crime has changed.

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Apr. 24 2020, Updated 5:24 p.m. ET

the irishman netflix
Source: Netflix

The last time Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese worked on a gangster flick together, the actor-director duo's bread and butter, it was for 1995's Casino. I personally have some fond memories of that film, my father thought it'd be a good idea to take a 9-year-old to watch it, and boy, was he right.

Some 24 years later and the two men are working together on a new gangster flick that seems to take a page out of Sergio Leone's filmmaking handbook with The Irishman

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The Irishman is (kind of) based on a true story. So, what is it about? 

The movie follows three primary characters: Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), and Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci). While De Niro has shared the screen with Pesci quite a few times before, and even Pacino, the fact that all three of these very specific actors who are crushing it in a genre that they pretty much owned and popularized in the late '80s and '90s, are all in the same movie, has film buffs very, very excited. 

Especially since Pesci has been out of the game for a while.

Frank Sheeran is a World War II veteran who turns his military training and combat experience into a lucrative career in organized crime, under the guidance of Russell Bufalino. Frank's career, of course, is that primarily of a hitman, and Russell eventually connects him with the infamous union leader Jimmy Hoffa.

In a newly-released teaser trailer courtesy of Netflix, we see a de-aged (with CGI) De Niro aka Frank making his first phone call with Hoffa, starting a working relationship that would span many, many years.

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screenshot from
Source: tribeca productions

Hoffa tells Frank, "I heard you paint houses." Guess what he paints them with? It ain't a double-coat of Sherwin-Williams, that's for sure.

The narrative of the film jumps back and forth between the past and present, and Frank's character hints to the viewers that there's a lot of things he knows, specifically surrounding the election (and assassination, maybe?) of John F. Kennedy, and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa in 1975.

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There's Oscar buzz already surrounding the film, which would make sense given it's deep talent pool: Ray Romano, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Canavale, and comedian Sebastian Masicalco, among others. It's also written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zallian (Schindler's List, Gangs of New York, Moneyball).

Mark your calendars for a Netflix and theatrical release. 

Post-production for the film proved to be costly, and expenses for The Irishman reportedly ran anywhere from $160 to $200 million, with a sizable chunk of that going to the de-aging CGI technology employed in the movie.

the irishman based true story
Source: Netflix
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For a blockbuster superhero film, no matter how "meh" it is (Captain Marvel, anyone?) it's probably going to make a ton of money regardless. So sure, have a production budget of $200 or $300 million because chances are you're going to more than double your investment after only three weekends at the box office globally.

But the box office yields for a Rated R gangster flick probably had investors a bit squeamish, which is why Netflix came into the picture.

The streaming giant fronted the rest of the cost for the film and will be putting the movie online, but the flick's getting a theatrical release as well, at the request of Martin Scorsese. Unlike Roma, according to The Hollywood Reporter, The Irishman is getting a full, not limited, run starting Sept. 27. 

"Netflix wants a big footprint for The Irishman," a source told the publication. "They’ve put themselves in a position by supporting these kinds of filmmakers where they have to come to grips with the theatrical business model and how it works."

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the irishman book
Source: Netflix

The Irishman is based on the book, I Heard You Paint Houses. 

The screenplay of the film is based on the novel by Charles Brandst, I Heard you Paint Houses. It was a best-seller and is packed with true accounts about the life and times of Frank Sheeran and the "closing the case on Jimmy Hoffa."

Reprinted copies of the book feature a cover promoting the upcoming movie that's based on it. 

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The Irishman reviews are sure to be good. 

Since the flick hasn't been released or screened yet, there haven't been any reviews, but you can keep checking back on the Metacritic page once it does. The 2019 New York Film Festival will reportedly open with a screening of the movie.

So are you excited to see The Irishman? It'll premiere in both theaters and on Netflix this fall, where it'll be going up a bunch of other hopeful Oscar contenders from the streaming platform. The Panama Papers by Steven Soderbergh, The King, starring Timothee Chalamet, The Last Thing He Wanted starring Willem Dafoe and Anne Hathaway, A Marriage Story with Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, and The Pope by Fernando Meirelles.

It'll be an interesting end of year for cinema, that's for sure. Watch The Irishman when it hits theaters (and Netflix) on September 27, 2019. 

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