Scorsese’s latest $150 million passion project details the life of the mob hitman Frank Sheeran, and his involvement with the Bufalino crime family as well as the disappearance of the union leader Jimmy Hoffa. This is a mob drama of epic proportions; not only in terms of the running time of 3 hours and 30 minutes but also the scope of the film which spans five decades and different characters and locations. An elderly Sheeran narrates the flashbacks throughout the film. The use of innovative de-ageing technology on the main characters is jarring at first but is easily forgotten thanks to the immersive nature of the film. Scorsese’s attention to detail, as well as the incredibly skilled performances by Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino; completely transports us into the life of Frank Sheeran and this world of violence and betrayal.    

Sheeran’s identity as a World War 2 veteran helps set the background to his abilities to follow orders and become a cold-blooded killer; as well as for the violent, emotional world that he easily adapts to. The film’s long, protracted conversations punctuated by moments of violence let the audience observe a sense of the rationalism and occasional banality of the mob world, instead of simply glamorising it. It paints the entire picture of one man’s life, bringing the audience along through all the ups and downs.

Although much of the film is in Scorsese’s classic style, the gangsters are older and more worn out than in films such as Goodfellas. The last half-hour of the film shows a much bleaker picture of the mob world, highlighting the emptiness of a life of crime and the ultimate price paid for this life of violence and excess. The emotions that they had learnt to separate from, and the religion which they had performed throughout their lives finally takes a toll on the characters at the end and provides a poignant ending that makes it well worth sticking it out through the long run time. 

 

Photo by  Ypehmish

 

 

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