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Overall Rating
3.93

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look92.86%
Just Average: 7.14%
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2 reviews, 2 user ratings



Flawless (2008)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Caine And Moore Capering About"
4 stars

“Flawless” is a better-than-average caper film with a nifty plot, an unusual setting and neat performances from a pair of reasonably high-profile stars. Since there isn’t exactly a surplus of such things clogging multiplexes these days (aside from the current sleeper “The Bank Job”), it seems a little strange that instead of getting a major nationwide release, it is therefore curious that it is only getting a cursory release from indie distributor Magnolia–one of those deals where the film appears simultaneously in theaters and on digital cable–instead of getting a full-scale rollout from one of the major studios. Were they put off by the low-key storytelling style that favors intricate plotting over glitzy effects. Were they annoyed that it was a period film that was set during a time that didn’t lend itself to outrageous costumes and a soundtrack filled with familiar oldies? Did they get up and flee when they got a load of the staggeringly unconvincing old age makeup and shaky British accent sported by Demi Moore in the fairly unnecessary opening framing sequence? Whatever the reasons, it is their loss–and yours as well, if you don’t live near a theater playing it or have access to HD NET–because while it is far from approximating the titular condition, it is still more entertaining than its second-tier status might otherwise suggest.

Set in London in 1960, years before the Swinging 60's era would fully flower, the film stars Moore as Laura Quinn, an ambitious businesswoman who is the only female senior executive at the London Diamond Corporation, an institute that is the biggest player in the international diamond market. Alas, she is repeatedly passed over for promotion in favor of less qualified male colleagues and when she comes up with the perfect solution to a tricky situation to a scandal involving a massacre at a South African diamond mine and the company’s business interests in Russia, she learns from mild-mannered janitor Hobbs (Michael Caine) that she is about to be fired for her efforts. Hobbs tells her this not to be mean but to convince her to aid him in a plot to liberate the vault of diamonds of maybe a handful of precious stones–hardly enough for the company to even notice that any are missing but enough to set the two of them up for the rest of their days. When Quinn discovers that she is indeed on the chopping block–to make matters worse, her employers have essentially blackballed her from ever working again in her chosen field–she decides to join forces with Hobbs and provides the information that he needs to get into the vault. What happens next during the heist and its aftermath is something that I will leave for you to discover, except to note that it leads to the introduction of Lambert Wilson as an insurance investigator who indulges in a bit of flirtation with Quinn even as he is fingerprinting her.

On the surface, “Flawless” may sound like just another caper film in which a bunch of rich movie stars coast through a nonsensical story based around a heist that is so elaborately conceived and expensively mounted that you find yourself wondering how they hope to make a profit off of their efforts. In truth, director Michael Radford (whose eclectic career has include the underrated adaptations of “1984" and “The Merchant of Venice,” the somewhat overrated “Il Postino” and the downright strange Asia Argento vehicle “B.Monkey”) and screenwriter Edward Anderson have wisely decided to keep things a little more down-to-earth and the film is all the better for it. Instead of coming up with an unfathomably complex plan for the central heist, they have come up with a far more realistic approach for both its conception–our heroes notice a couple of flaws in the company’s security system and work quickly to exploit it before someone else notices the loophole and shuts it down–and execution. This is neat but what is even neater is the way that we gradually begin to discover that there is more to the heist than immediately meets the eye–there is actually a point to all of it–and it elevates the film from the mindless froth that it might have otherwise become into something a little more meaningful.

In this regard, “Flawless” is immeasurably aided by the strong performances from its lead actors. The casting of Caine may remind viewers with longer memories of the caper films that he made during the 1960's but he does much more than simply serve as a flesh-and-blood in-joke reference–his ability to quickly shift from genial to menacing is used to good effect and his considerable acting chops help to bring an extra level of drama and reality to the proceedings. Although hobbled by a fairly unconvincing and occasionally ignored British accent (which the film tries to explain away with a throwaway line about her being an American who was educated at Oxford), Demi Moore is a good choice for the ambitious and determined Quinn, a woman who has spent her entire life suppressing her emotions in an effort to get ahead in the business world, and her work is strong enough to remind viewers that there is a decent actress lurking behind the tabloid headlines.

“Flawless” doesn’t quite live up to its title–it brings in the controversy surrounding conflict diamonds but doesn’t really do anything with it and the present-day framing device, in which an aged Quinn recounts her story for a newspaper reporter is thoroughly unnecessary–but what it does do, it does exceedingly well. It is kind of a shame that it isn’t getting a wider distribution because it is precisely the kind of intelligent adult entertainment that people are always complaining isn't being made anymore. Well, as this film proves, they are still being made–you just have to work a little harder to seek them out. In the case of “Flawless,” the results are well worth the effort.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16789&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/28/08 00:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/24/15 Jamie Cain fantastic, Demi miscast, real possibilities here wasted on wrong female lead 4 stars
7/07/08 PAUL SHORTT DELIVERS ON ALMOST ALL OF ITS AMBITIOUS PROMISES 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  28-Mar-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-Jun-2008

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