The trailer for Netflix’s latest bank-breaking attempt at prestige cinema, The Irishman, has finally been released, allowing viewers a glimpse of director Martin Scorsese’s latest crime thriller and the de-aged gangsters that inhabit it. The Irishman is being pegged as the streaming company’s biggest attempt yet to establish as serious players in the film world. The movie is based on Charles Brandt’s 2003 biography of union boss Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, I Heard You Paint Houses, which details the union leader’s murderous exploits on behalf of the Bufalino crime family and, specifically, his role in the disappearance of union activist Jimmy Hoffa. Robert De Niro stars as Sheeran, with the role of Jimmy Hoffa being filled by Al Pacino. The film will also feature Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, Sebastian Maniscalco, Harvey Keitel, and Anna Paquin.
Beyond the sheer star power of the Scorsese–Pacino–De Niro trinity, the film is anticipated for its extensive use of de-aging technology. Taking a page from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and upcoming pictures like Will Smith’s Gemini Man, The Irishman will reportedly use de-aging technology to alternate De Niro and Pacino’s ages throughout the film, much to the confusion of director Martin Scorsese, who recently voiced skepticism about these newfangled post-production “youthification” effects in an interview with Souvenir director Joanna Hogg.
Why I’m concerned, we’re all concerned is that we’re so used to watching them as the older faces. When we put them all together, it cuts back and forth. The thing I talked about before in New York to you. Now, it’s real. Now, I’m seeing it. Now, certain shots need more work on the eyes, need more work on why these exactly the same eyes from the plate shot, but the wrinkles and things have changed. Does it change the eyes at all? If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?
The trailer seems to be doing about as much as it can to prevent viewers from, y’know, seeing Robert De Niro’s face, which is seen from behind and through a rain-streaked window, but not, until the very end, full-on. From what we do get to see, the de-aging technician (or engineer? artist? what do we call them?) seems to have been aiming for De Niro circa 1985 to 1995. A solid De Niro era to be sure, but won’t he still move like a 75 year old man? Are they going to CGI that too? Plus, he doesn’t look that young. Was this really necessary?
And Scorsese’s right—what about the eyes? Well, at least in this first trailer we can definitely see that de-aged Robert De Niro has … eyes. But what’s going on in there? Will a de-aged De Niro still be able to muster that famous stare? Audiences will have the chance to find out when the film premiers this fall at the 2019 New York Film Festival ahead of a limited theatrical run before releasing on Netflix.