The Irishman used CGI deaging technology so it could have its main cast portray their characters in different stages of their lives, and while it did a good job, it also showed the limits of this technology. The Irishman marks Martin Scorsese’s return to mob films after exploring other genres for over a decade, and reunites him with some of his frequent collaborators, such as Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. This film is also the first collaboration between Scorsese and Al Pacino after a long wait of nearly 50 years.
The Irishman follows truck driver Frank Sheeran (De Niro) who gets involved with Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and his crime family. Frank becomes his top hitman and starts working for Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), a powerful Teamster linked to organized crime. De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino underwent CGI deaging process in order to play younger versions of themselves, which was effective… for the most part, as it also showed there are details that deaging technology can’t change.
Although the same CGI process has been seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before, most notably in Captain Marvel through a younger looking Samuel L. Jackson, these limits weren’t evident, but they were brought to light in The Irishman.
The Irishman’s CGI deaging was effective in making its actors look younger (might be weird at first, but you eventually get used to it), but it can’t hide that they are actually way older. The deaging process only applies to how actors look and not for how they move and talk. This can be seen in the scene where Frank beats up the shop owner that pushed his daughter, Peggy (Lucy Gallina, and later played by Anna Paquin): he’s supposed to be in his late 30s, but his movements are those of a man in his 70s, which is De Niro’s real age. The deaging process doesn’t apply to voices either, and in some cases and scenes this is also evident as there’s no coherence between the young appearance and the more mature voice.
While some viewers are understandably against the use of deaging technology, it has to be said that it has come a long way in a short period of time. The result of this process seen in films like Captain America: Civil War and more recently in Captain Marvel is very different to that in The Irishman, but it succeeded in hiding the aforementioned limits mainly because the deaged actors are younger than De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino. But in the end, these details get buried underneath everything that happens in the story of The Irishman and the performances of its actors, and many viewers might not even notice them.
Next: Why Audiences Think The Irishman Is Boring (But Reviews Love It)