The Irishman: Another Epic Scorsese Mafia Film

by The Cowl Editor on December 5, 2019

Film and Television

by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff

On Nov. 27, The Irishman was finally released for streaming on Netflix. Martin Scorsese’s latest mob installment continues his creation of long films, as The Irishman has a total run time of three hours and thirty minutes. This run time is unprecedented by other directors, and the film’s length has left such an intense impact on the audience that now there are questions of whether the film itself could have potentially been a mini-series on Netflix instead. 

The idea that the film could have potentially done better as a series grabbed Scorsese’s attention. Recently, Scorsese addressed these questions about the idea of a series rather than a film. According to Vice, when asked about the possibility of The Irishman being a series, Scorsese said, “Absolutely, no. I’ve never even thought of it. …It’s an accumulated cumulative effect by the end of the movie.” The director believes that a story like The Irishman’s is best left to the big screen, and that says quite a bit about Scorsese’s stories. From a classic such as Goodfellas all the way to Casino, Scorsese maintains powerful stories that can only be told by a film because of the intensity of his characters and willingness to add as much detail as possible.


The Irishman features a loaded cast, with many mafia classics on the list. The main character is played by Robert DeNiro, with legends Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel in supporting roles. Other notable supporting actors include Ray Romano, Anna Paquin, Steven Van Zandt, Sebastian Maniscalco, and Jesse Plemons. The films cast is what many consider to be loaded, and the pure talent in that group is evident in the film. For many of these actors and actresses, this film continues their consistent activity in Hollywood. For others such as Pesci, however, this film is his most recent in a long drought.

Pesci seemed to step away from the film industry for a number of years, seemingly to take a break and transition slowly into retirement. Apparently, The Irishman was special enough for him to come out of his hiatus and continue his illustrious career as an actor. Pesci plays the character of one Russell Bufalino, who is extremely different to the most well-known of Pesci’s previous roles. He is extremely calm and straight to the point, not one of his old, psychotic, homicidal characters that would get angry at anything in their path. 


Scorsese’s film highlights the talents of the makeup and technology crew teams as well. Their ability to make the main characters, DeNiro, Pacino, and Pesci, look younger by de-aging them cost the film quite a bit of money. Some fans think that it was not necessary. It would be hard to disagree, however, that the younger faces give the film a certain type of aura that is comparable to Scorsese’s old films like Goodfellas and Mean Streets. That is what makes this film special: Scorsese’s willingness to include the most critical details, from run time all the way to de-aging effects on the main characters.