' ' Cinema Romantico: Dissecting a Scene: Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night - Part 3

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Dissecting a Scene: Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night - Part 3

Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night Appreciation Week rolls on with Part 3. Read Parts 1 & 2 here and here.

The third stanza of Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night begins with Jerry Vale (Steven Van Zandt) performing “Spanish Eyes.”  [Ed Note: Van Zandt is lip-syncing because, my God, while Little Stevie is my E-Streeter, like the way Beatles fans have their Beatle, Little Stevie, bless his eternal heart, can’t sing.]

As he croons, Jimmy shares a dance with Peggy. And this shot feels huge. If in the preceding moment, during her family photography, Paquin has Peggy shining on a big grin, here her giant smile feels genuine, cluing you into how she feels about each man, and signaling Jimmy’s authentic charm.

Then a cut to Russell and Salerno watching in that kind of way that is less from the heart and even lecherous than politely menacing, like you’re taking one last look, that sensation heightened by Fitz whispering something in Russell’s ear.

And the reaction to their looks is, crucially, not given to Jimmy, his back turned, as if he doesn’t even care, but to Peggy, enhancing her Greek Choral role while Paquin infuses the moment with something closer to defiance than distress.

Then the men, including Ftiz, get up from the table, off to do business, yes, but almost a kind of reaction to Peggy, like she’s pushed them away from the table by standing her ground.

Then a close-up of a ring, a gold ring custom-made by Russell.

One, he explains, only three people in the world have - him, Angelo (Harvey Keitel), and now Frank.

And rather than cutting back to Frank, Schoonmaker goes back to these insert shots of the two men’s hands as Frank takes it the ring, like in this moment the ring is bigger than the man.

.Frank slips the ring on.

Now we see Frank. He admires the ring, as you do, expressing gratitude.

And the two men compare their rings.

And then Russell leans over and kisses Frank on the cheek, conferring his blessing.

The camera cuts wide, watching the two men watch Jerry Vale, suggesting, if but for a fleeting second, a moment of repose.

That does not last. Because the camera cuts closer to down below where Jimmy is chatting up Angelo, reminding us that despite the momentousness of that ring exchange, who this scene is really about.

Indeed, Russell slyly segues into telling Frank that he’s gotta talk to Jimmy, to tell him the word has come down from the top that things have gotten out of hand, the placement of this talk after the ring exchange making it feel as if the exchanging of the ring was as much about Russell buttering up Frank as honoring him.

“These are the high rollers,” explains Russell.

“He’s a high roller too,” counters Frank.

And Pesci reacts with this! This indelible scrunched up bit of bemusement.

“Not like this,” he says.

And then he leans in for the whispered exclamation point. “If they can whack a President,” he whispers, “they can whack a President of a Union.”

At that, DeNiro does this. Like, shit.

Schoonmaker goes wide, underscoring the sudden massiveness of Frank’s situation, yes, but also...

...because it’s Peggy’s point-of-view, still watching, still judging.

And then he looks off into the distance at nothing much, stuttering and stammering, talking out loud to himself more than talking to Russell. “I talk to this guy, I talk this guy, he don’t listen but now he’s gotta listen.”

And now, Russell says nothing. What needed to be said has been said. It’s up to Frank to say to Jimmy what else has gotta be said.

And a cut back to Vale, concluding “Al- Di- La”, the final notes belted to the rafters rendering the forthcoming final tête-à-tête of the sequence as something like a requiem for Jimmy Hoffa.

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