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Scent of a Woman
DVD disk
Feb 28, 2005 By: JoBlo
Scent of a Woman order
Director:
Martin Brest

Actors:
Al Pacino
Chris O Donnell
Philip Seymour Hoffman

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An Oregonian scholarship student can’t go home for Thanksgiving because he’s poor and decides to take on the task of overlooking an aging, bitter, retired Army man for the weekend, in order to score some dough for his future travels home. While taking care of the rude, older man, he’s snookered into spending the weekend in New York City with him, during which the vet has decided to live his life to the fullest and then to blow his brains out. Needless to say, a tense weekend ensues.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The man is in the fuckin’ dark…leave him be already! Woo-hah! That’s right, in one of the most over-the-top and boisterous performances of his career, sometime-shouting actor Al Pacino nabbed with this showing, his long-awaited and much-deserved Academy Award for Best Actor in 1993. As much as Pacino blows up in certain scenes in this film, including the infamous “I’m in the dark here!” and “If I was half the man I was five years ago, I’d take a flamethrower to this place!” (a line I quote regularly…don’t ask), the movie succeeds on the whole because the two lead characters, in Pacino and a very young and green Chris O’Donnell, convince us of their personas, and even more importantly in any such film deemed to be a “character study” rather than plot-driven, engage us in their lives.

Despite the two characters seemingly lying at the polar opposite of the personality scale (one is a pure asshole while the other is just plain…pure), the film develops them both enough for you to really look forward to spending more time with them. That’s right…even Pacino’s asshole character, who despite being a dick, is actually very entertaining, charming and irresistible. And while the accolades tossed Pacino’s way were certainly well deserved, O’Donnell also deserves some props for convincing up against the big man, while establishing a great rapport and chemistry. The film is directed by Martin Brest, which automatically suggests a runtime of, at least, two and a half hours, which is exactly how long this one lasts, but none of it is in vain. In fact, I wanted the final “school showdown” to last longer. The film is also laced with some classic sequences including the tango with Gabriella Anwar, an uncomfortable Thanksgiving family dinner to end all uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinners and the aforementioned final “school showdown” scene, which adds tension and moral compass to the picture.

Granted, the film includes a couple of sequences which defy logic including the Ferrari drive, the subsequent police officer interaction and the final decision made by a committee – which takes about 30 seconds, for the obvious sake of the audience – but you go along with most of it because the film works as a crowd pleaser, doesn’t go too over-the-top and remains grounded in its two lead characters at all other times. I really enjoyed watching this film and can see myself watching it again some day. A great character-driven movie starring two well-rounded characters, a fun performance by Pacino, deft directing, a complementary score and plenty of human interest all the way around.
THE EXTRAS
Dick. A cool montage of all the Pacino Woo-Ha’s would have been nifty, but we get nothing instead.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The DVD itself holds nothing extra on which you can hang your fanboy hat (surely a “Special Edition” of the film will come out soon enough), but the film is special, and features great camaraderie between two opposite human beings who ultimately – as the story goes – learn from each other and better themselves. Oh, and if all that isn’t enough, watch it to see one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s earlier roles as a sniveling, bratty, rich coward. A solid movie.
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