The mafia film duo intended to adapt Don Winslow’s “Frankie Machine Winter” novel into a Paramount film. “Frankie Machine” follows a hitman who comes out of retirement for one last job. This type of crime film would have been familiar territory for De Niro and Scorsese, earning them the green light for production at Paramount.
De Niro actually read Brandt’s “I Heard You Paint Houses” in preparation for his role in “Frankie Machine.” Instead of being more excited about his existing project, he fell in love with a new idea. The actor felt connected to the retrospective nature of the novel. He liked the story to be told by an old man looking back on his life. “The whole story reflects how we age, and that’s good,” the actor told The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re getting closer to that moment, if you will.” He and Scorsese were both well over 70 when “The Irishman” was released in 2019.
“It’s a reflective film,” Scorsese explained during a Netflix panel discussion. “There’s action…there’s scale, but it should all go at the pace of…the way we think now when we look back.”
“The Irishman” definitely has a “reflective” feel to it. The story unfolds slowly, jumping in time, like the abjuration of a complicated memory. Everyone knows the lead actors and the director of the mob movies, so watching them act out the story of retired mafiosos feels all too real. It’s as if De Niro, Pesci and Pacino really reflect on the life of crime. This gave “The Irishman” a layer of authenticity that ranks it among the best works of these Hollywood legends.