First footage released of new mob drama, telling the story of mafia hitman Frank Sheeran and union kingpin Jimmy Hoffa using CGI de-aging
Film audiences got their first glimpse of a de-aged Robert De Niro as the trailer for Martin Scorseses new gangster film The Irishman was released online.
The Irishman represents Scorseses first film with De Niro for almost quarter of a century since 1995s Casino as well as being their ninth film together: previous collaborations have resulted in such masterworks as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy and GoodFellas. Scorsese has also brought back other members of the old crew, with roles for Joe Pesci, who acted memorably in supporting roles alongside De Niro in Raging Bull and GoodFellas, and Harvey Keitel, who partnered with De Niro and Scorsese in Mean Streets and Taxi Driver.
Based on Charles Brandts true-crime book I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman tells the story of Irish-American union organiser Frank Sheeran, who Brandt claimed was the murderer of union boss Jimmy Hoffa, the notoriously corrupt president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters who vanished in 1975 and was declared legally dead in 1982. De Niro plays Sheeran, and Hoffa is played by Al Pacino: remarkably, the first time the latter has appeared in a Scorsese film, though he did act opposite De Niro in 1995s Heat, and more recently in 2008s Righteous Kill.
The films use of computer-generated imagery to make its actors look younger has created considerable interest. Sheeran was in his mid-50s when Hoffa disappeared, and Hoffa himself was 62; De Niro and Pacino are 75 and 79 respectively. However, Scorsese himself expressed misgivings over the technique. In an interview in May with fellow director Joanna Hogg he said: Does [the technique] change the eyes at all? If thats the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat? And then how do we get it back? I dont know.
The technical challenge was such that the films postproduction took longer than anticipated, leading to the film missing the deadline for the prestigious Cannes film festival in May, where it had been expected to be in contention for a slot. However the delay may have been a blessing in disguise: after the disappointing commercial performance of Scorseses previous film, the clerical drama Silence, The Irishmans producers Paramount sold distribution rights to streaming giant Netflix, whose films are effectively banned from Cannes. If the film had been ready, Scorsese a long time champion of the cinema experience, would have found himself caught in the middle of a war between the highbrow French film festival and the tech disruptors who refuse to abide by the festivals rules over cinema release windows.
In the event, The Irishman was announced as the opening film in the New York film festival, with the festival director Kent Jones saying: Its the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that Ive seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me.
The Irishman premieres on 27 September, and will be released in cinemas and on Netflix later in the autumn.