THE IRISHMAN – Review by Susan Granger

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Martin Scorsese has created a sprawling, three-and-a-half-hour gangster epic, teaming Robert De Niro with Al Pacino (for the first time), along with Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel.

Now confined to a wheelchair in a Catholic nursing home, melancholy Frank Sheeran (De Niro) recalls the events leading up to the 1975 murder of Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) and how it connects with a road trip to a wedding in Detroit with Frank’s ruthless mentor Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and their respective wives.

After fighting in WWII, Frank meets Russ, impressing him by how, as a truck driver, he deftly stole sides of meat for his cousin Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano). That leads to jobs for Philadelphia Mafia bosses Angelo Bruno (Harvey Keitel) and Felix ‘Skinny Razor’ Di’Tullio (Bobby Cannavale) which, in turn, convinced Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) to hire him as his personal spy/bodyguard.

“The first words Jimmy ever spoke to me were, ‘I heard you paint houses,’” recalls Frank. That’s mob slang for “painting the walls red” with blood.

Hoffa loathed President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby who, as Attorney General, launched a campaign against organized crime – a major betrayal since these same gangsters helped secure JFK’s presidency.

Based on Charles Brandt’s “I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Final Ride of Jimmy Hoffa” (2004), it’s slyly scripted by Steven Zaillian, although a subplot featuring Frank’s unforgiving daughter Peggy (Lucy Gallina as a child/Anna Paquin as an adult) emerges as an awkward detour into his conscience.

Much-heralded visual effects enable De Niro, Pesci and Pacino to “de-age” three decades, chronicled by cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto and impeccably edited by Thelma Schoonmaker. Expect Oscar nominations for Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci, along with Zaillian, Prieto, Schoonmaker and production designer Bob Shaw.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Irishman” is a coldly credible, captivating 9 – with cinematic masters at the top of their game

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.