The Irishman at HOME

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor

The Irishman at HOME Manchester, Manchester 15 November — 12 December 2019 Tickets from £7.5 — Book now

The title “The Irishman” doesn’t appear onscreen to announce Martin Scorsese’s latest film. In its place, “I Heard You Paint Houses”, a more evocative, less marketing-friendly, title. This three-hour-plus epic of twentieth century American history, mobsters and the trucking union has had a storied production history. For years traditional movie studios passed as interest waxed and waned. Eventually, streaming giant Netflix stepped in to fund the expensive production, which by now included a bill to digitally de-age the principle cast. Scorsese had the funding to reunite with actors Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, and finally work with Al Pacino. The trade-off being that The Irishman reaches a limited number of cinemas (HOME included) – though it is available a week later on Netflix’s streaming platform.

De Niro’s Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran is a man who finds it easy to translate the horrors of World War II into a lucrative career as a mob hitman and enforcer. A chance meeting with Pesci’s Pennsylvanian crime boss Russel Bufalino takes Sheeran from crooked delivery driver to rising hired gun. Along the way he’s introduced to Pacino’s superstar head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa – a bonafide celebrity, mafia tool and force for political corruption. Working from Sheeran’s point of view, Scorsese flashes back and forth across decades to fill in the closely weaving intersections of the three men’s lives across the decades, from the 40s to the early 00s.

if The Irishman is to be the director’s last visit to this milieu, then this is a fitting, icy capstone.

The film has a strikingly flat trajectory; gone is the exuberance, the chaotic rise and crashing fall that characterised Goodfellas ̧ Casino and even The Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese is reunited with the stars (and his friends) of those two earlier movies, and in spite of, or perhaps in part because of, the de-aging technology he employs, The Irishman gathers the feeling of a slow march, an acknowledgment of mortality. Death is ever-present – throughout, the film overlays captions which outline the shootings, bombings and cancers that befall even minor players – but as the years, the prison terms and medical ailments mount up, Scorsese’s tone grows ever more maudlin.

From the Kennedy assasination to Cuban relations, there are hints at the ways in which the mobs and unions impacted upon political events of the highest order. While the audience is left to make up their own minds about how far the slimy tentacles of corruption actually spread, The Irishman posits that much of the motivation lies not even in greed, or power, but in vanity and ego. It slowly tears at the notion that there is any real pleasure to be found in mob life. Pacino’s Hoffa lives the high life for a while, but he is a comic figure, too caught up in matters of respect and reputation – the film’s best gags stem from disagreements about punctuality and appropriate trouser length – to take heed of the blaring warnings of his impending downfall.

De Niro’s Sheeran and Pesci’s Bufalino are more pragmatic, steelier individuals. Hoffa can charm Sheeran’s daughter, where Bufalino only scares her. Regardless of how they choose to tread through their chosen world, it’s made clear that these are not ways to live a life. There’s no respect, no glory at the end of the road — only a fate of anonymous rot and decrepitude. The Irishman is the work of a master filmmaker, working at the end of his career, with all of the knowledge, tools and hindsight that entails. Scorsese’s association with the gangster picture is overstated, he’s produced magnificent musicals, exquisite period pieces and transcendent religious works. But if The Irishman is to be the director’s last visit to this milieu, then this is a fitting, icy capstone.

The Irishman at HOME Manchester, Manchester 15 November — 12 December 2019 Tickets from £7.5 Book now

What's on at HOME Manchester

Where to go near The Irishman at HOME

Indian Tiffin Room, Manchester

Indian Tiffin Room is a restaurant specialising in Indian street food, with branches in Cheadle and Manchester. This is the information for the Manchester venue.

The Ritz Manchester live music venue
Music venue
The Ritz

The Ritz was originally a dance hall, built in 1928, has hosted The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Smiths and is still going strong as a gig venue now.

Event venue

Homeground is HOME’s brand new outdoor venue, providing an open-air space for theatre, food, film, music, comedy and more.

Café or Coffee Shop
Burgess Cafe Bar

Small but perfectly-formed café – which also serves as the in-house bookstore, stocking all manner of Burgess-related works, along with recordings of his music. It’s a welcoming space, with huge glass windows making for a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

Rain Bar pub in Manchester
City Centre
Bar or Pub
Rain Bar

This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city.

Bar or Pub
The Briton’s Protection

Standing on the corner of a junction opposite The Bridgewater Hall, The Briton’s Protection is Manchester’s oldest pub. It has occupied the same spot since 1795, going under the equally patriotic name The Ancient Britain.

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