The Irishman

Rated 4.0

After a lot of publicity surrounding the digital de-aging of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino for the project, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman arrives on Netflix, and it’s a typically very good offering from the auteur. It has a few problems, but the opportunity to see the likes of De Niro, Pacino and Joe Pesci in a movie together under the Great One’s tutelage more than overrides the shortfalls. The film is based on the book about Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (De Niro) called I Heard You Paint Houses (which is actually the title listed in the opening credits). Sheeran was a labor union official and occasional hitman who had ties to Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). The film, like the book, claims that he was the actual triggerman in the assassination of Hoffa. The film covers a long timespan. We see Sheeran from his 30s up until shortly before his death in his 80s. All ages are played by De Niro, and the much ballyhooed digital de-aging of De Niro (along with Pacino and Pesci) is mostly a bust. There are moments where De Niro looks perhaps a tad younger than his 76 years (he might pass for 58), but it always looks like bad makeup, dye jobs and funky lighting rather than high-tech effects masterfully at work. Plus, these are old voices coming out of digitally enhanced, oddly smooth faces. Distracting effects aside, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci are priceless in their parts, no matter what age they depict. Scorsese has made a nice companion piece to his gangster epic Goodfellas—an ugly depiction of the loneliness and alienation that results from things like shooting your friends in the head. (Streaming on Netflix.)