This past Wednesday director Martin Scorsese‘s latest magnum opus, THE IRISHMAN, dropped on Netflix just in time for Thanksgiving. While the film is already getting a ton of Oscar buzz and has been praised by critics (JoBlo’s own Chris Bumbray among them) and audiences, there’s one thing many people are hung up on. One of the few prominent actresses among a male dominant cast is Oscar winner Anna Paquin. The former True Blood star plays Peggy Sheeran, one of Frank Sheeran’s (Robert De Niro) daughters. However, the actress speaks a grand total of six words in just ten minutes of screentime.
This paucity of dialogue for the actress has left many to wonder why Paquin is so underutilized in the role. Some have even claimed Paquin’s scarcity of words to be problematic and have derided Scorsese for his actions. However, one actor who disagrees, is the man who’s in virtually every scene of THE IRISHMAN – Robert De Niro. The Academy Award winner was quick to defend both Paquin and Scorsese saying, “She was very powerful and that’s what it was. Maybe in other scenes there could’ve been some interaction between Frank and her possibly, but that’s how it was done. She’s terrific and it resonates.”
It’s important to note that Paquin’s silence falls in line with her character. The younger version of Peggy is a noticeably shy person who rarely speaks. Additionally, I believe the point of Peggy’s silence is a rebuke to her father’s way of life. Rather than talk to Frank, Peggy actively chooses not to engage with her father. As they say, sometimes silence speaks volumes, and Paquin’s quiet intensity makes for some tense and powerful scenes. Either way THE IRISHMAN is ultimately Scorsese’s film and he’s the one who gets to decide the specifics. Far be it from me or anyone to question Martin Scorsese. The man has earned his reputation as a master storyteller.
THE IRISHMAN is playing in select theaters and currently streaming on Netflix.