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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look: 19.23%
Just Average50%
Pretty Crappy: 7.69%
Sucks: 15.38%

2 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Flawless (1999)
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by Natasha Theobald

"Interesting characters overshadowed by a concocted thriller."
3 stars

You know what I would have loved? Rusty and Walt sitting in a room talking for a couple of hours. No missing money. No baddies with guns. Just a couple of people learning what it is like for other, different-from-them people to survive in the world. That would have been a good movie. This movie, the one with the missing money and gun-toting baddies cutting into together time for the characters, was just O.K.

Walt (Robert De Niro) is a retired police officer, a hero of sorts, who has medals and awards enough to clutter his dresser, attesting to his decency and honor. What he doesn't have is someone with whom to share time and friendship. One night, he is awakened by a ruckus in his building on another floor. He grabs his gun and goes to investigate, but he never makes it to the scene of the crime. He has a stroke and ends up lying on the stairs, unable to help anyone, including himself. It is in this time of need that Walt learns who his true friends are and what it really means to be heroic.

At the suggestion of his doctor, Walt decides to try singing lessons as therapy for regaining his speech. Still slow-moving with a cane, he asks for help from a singer in his building, Rusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a woman who was born a man. Walt has never had a kind word and, in fact, has had several unkind words for Rusty and her friends over the years. Rusty, however, tends to be more generous and forgiving and, needing the money, accepts his offer to pay for lessons. She speaks with his doctor about the best approach and embarks on the journey of helping Walt. Their time together is that of learning, growth, and gained empathy and understanding. If only we didn't have to leave that room.

The baddies with guns are after some money that was stolen from them. The ruckus was them searching for their lost fortune and killing the people who got in the way of finding it. It is still unknown to them where the money may be, but they have a man inside the building closely watching the goings-on while they wait, with increasing impatience, for the money to surface. This portion of the plot is in no discernible way different from a million other movies and cop shows you have seen. These are brutal men willing to do anything to retrieve what is rightfully (in criminal thinking) theirs.

Robert De Niro plays the stroke victim with believability, particularly in terms of the physical manifestations of the attack. The most interesting thing about the character is how stubborn and resistant to change he remains, even when life has thrown a big change into his path. He doesn't automatically grow a heart of gold, and he still finds it difficult to hold his tongue on matters of Rusty's lifestyle. But, he is affected. Knowing and growing to care for someone different from him has a slow but noticeable impact on his life. He has to learn, too, in many areas, to accept what is honest and take love from those who can give it.

Philip Seymour Hoffman embodies Rusty with equal parts strength and sensitivity. While some of the supporting characters tend toward stereotypes, Rusty is a fully realized human being struggling with what it means to be human and what it means to be other than ordinary. I think about my favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman performances, for example his memorable turn in Boogie Nights, where he just broke my heart, and wonder what it is about him that so lends itself to such deeply vulnerable characters. He is able to get into that skin in a way few actors can and make those in the audience who can see it understand the minute details of pain and feel the rich emotion to which most of us are not strangers. He can, like no one else, make visible the inner turmoil of deeply conflicted people without losing the other parts of them, the things that make them whole and capable and functioning members of society. His characters are not just puddles of problems drenching the world with despair. They are, very simply, people who know what it is to stand on the outside looking in. This movie is worth seeing for that alone.

At the end of the movie, over the credits, we are treated to what might have been. It is a scene where Rusty and Walt are simply interacting, sharing bits of themselves in different suggestions at a singing lesson. It is so inviting and such a pleasure to watch that it made me wish the whole movie was more of the same.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1611&reviewer=317
originally posted: 01/21/03 16:40:38
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User Comments

5/20/06 WilsonFan Wilson's email is W_J_H1@yahoo.com,right? 4 stars
12/26/04 mjoc This is the worst movie De Niro has ever been in. 1 stars
3/05/04 Goofy Maxwell Can it get any sillier than bb gun cuff links? Wait til the end. 3 stars
12/09/03 Frank Whites not bad 4 stars
1/12/03 Jack Sommersby Nothing more than an acting exercise for its stars. Badly filmed and dramatically obvious. 1 stars
9/29/02 baymare17h outrageous & real 5 stars
9/04/00 David O'Connell Very entertaining, if you like to squirm; and, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is terrific! 4 stars
8/02/00 DSM-IV Pretty damn close! Authentic:not pretty,but that's life.DeNiro&Hoffman,both excellent. 5 stars
5/16/00 Elvisfan Uh, I like both actors but this movie was unbearable, unfunny, & waaaaaay too long 1 stars
5/15/00 Monday Morning Lame, annoying. Even Bobby D can't salvage it. 2 stars
1/21/00 Heather Funny movie, worth it to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in drag 4 stars
12/30/99 Kathy Griffy The worst film I've ever seen and I like that drag queen guy but this movie sucked my cooch 1 stars
12/18/99 tjoe its awesome, great film 4 stars
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  24-Nov-1999 (R)


  16-Nov-2000 (M)

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