PODCAST | Sarah Bradbury interviews on the red carpet of the BFI London Film Festival Robert De Niro, Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel and Stephen Graham, actors of the film The Irishman.
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Martin Scorsese’s ninth collaboration with Robert De Niro finds the master filmmaker returning to the genre he has helped define, with a mystery that has never been solved.
The Irishman: Who killed Jimmy Hoffa? A labour leader and the infamous head of the Teamsters union, whose connections with organised crime were wide ranging, his career ended with a conviction for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud, but he was pardoned by President Nixon in 1971. Not long after, he disappeared. Declared legally dead in 1982, various theories have circulated as to what happened to him. Few are as convincing as that told by Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran. The account he revealed to journalist Charles Brandt and published in the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, is the basis of this riveting, epic crime drama. Written by Gangs of New York collaborator Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List), Scorsese’s The Irishman weaves an engrossing and intricate web of connected events, audaciously cutting back and forth across decades. Presented through the prism of Sheeran’s (De Niro) memories of his criminal past, the film uses state-of-the-art visual effects to ‘de-age’ the cast from their 70s through their 30s. The seamless (and astonishing) post-production allows Scorsese to bring together a favoured megawatt cast, all on exceptional form: the former Goodfellas pairing of De Niro and Joe Pesci (out of retirement here for Scorsese), alongside Harvey Keitel, Stephen Graham, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano. Al Pacino, appearing for the first time in a Scorsese film, gives a performance as Jimmy Hoffa so good you’ll want to watch scenes again straight away, not least the many two-handers with Pacino’s Hoffa and De Niro’s Irishman Sheeran, whose friendship forms the heart of the film. What a way to close the LFF – with a total showstopper.