Three performances make Martin Scorsese’s dour, mob epic, “The Irishman,” an instant classic: (1) Joe Pesci as crime boss Russell Bufalino; (2) Robert De Niro as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran; and (3) Anna Paquin as Frank’s daughter Peggy.

Recently, Scorsese’s been taking heat on social media about his sparse use of Oscar-winning actress Paquin. The criticism is based chiefly on dialogue word count. But Peggy is a critical piece in understanding the film’s profound message.

“The Irishman” is the story of low-key mob killer and distant family man Frank Sheeran. Throughout the movie, Frank’s long-suffering daughter, Peggy, acts as the conscience Frank never had. Paquin plays the older Peggy and drives shame home with very few words. It’s an emotive performance where less is more. Like Lorraine Bracco’s Karen Hill in “Goodfellas,” Peggy Sheeran is an integral part of the Scorsese collection. Only through a daughter’s eyes can we see a father as the monster that he is. It’s terrifying.

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