Martin Scorsese's The Irishman is getting a lot of praise from critics. The film is being called one of Scorsese's best pictures, and by some it's being called his best. Most everyone seems to be in agreement that the movie, the performances, and everything else about the film is excellent. The only topic of debate is whether or not anything in the film actually happened.
The Irishman is based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. In the book, Brandt interviews former mobster Frank Sheeran, the same character played by Robert De Niro in the film, about his alleged involvement in the disappearance of Union leader Jimmy Hoffa.
Sheeran claims to have been the one to kill Hoffa. However, law enforcement largely doesn't believe Sheeran's account of what happened, and Hoffa investigator Dan Moldea has specifically called out the claim as being false. Recently De Niro himself was asked about Moldea's. The actor seems to have a pretty level head about the whole thing. De Niro argues that The Irishman doesn't claim to be the true story, just a story,..
For what it's worth, Robert De Niro seems to believe that the story, as Frank Sheeran tells it, is true, but he tells Indiewire he takes no issue with those that disagree. The fact that there is no definitive answer to what happened to Jimmy Hoffa means that we can't be sure that any theory or accusation is true and there will be multiple opinions.
The Irishman certainly wouldn't be the first movie to tell a fictional story based on actual events, and it certainly could be that's what we're going to get with it. It's a popular genre in fiction to try and fill in the gaps in historical knowledge, or simply take actual history in a different direction.
Of course, there's always a worry that some audiences might take The Irishman as the truth when it may not be that. It is, at best, one theory of the events, an uncorroborated version of what might have happened. Movies based on true stories always get criticized for changing up the truth to make a better movie, and The Irishman may be taking that to a new level.
Whether you believe Frank Sheeran or not, whether The Irishman is full of facts or fiction, that doesn't seem to influence those who think it's a great film.
The Irishman is in select theaters now and will arrive on Netflix November 27.
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