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Flawless (1999)
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Review Date: November 24, 1999
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Joel Schumacher
Producers: Joel Schumacher, Jane Rosenthal
Actors:
Robert De Niro
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Plot:
A macho ex-security guard doesn't like his neighbor who is gay and a drag queen. The neighbor doesn't like him back, cause he's an obvious homophobe. One day, the macho man has a stroke, gets paralyzed to his right side, and needs speech therapy lessons, which can be administered by someone very close to him. Guess, guess! That's right, irony upon irony, the same exact drag queen that he hates, now has to give him lessons. Let the odd couple therapy begin.
Critique:
Do not go to see this movie if you're looking for a good story. An eventful story it is not. Do go see this movie if you enjoy character-driven films which allow you to relate, care and understand the people in whom you are investing your time, as opposed to seeing them simply as movie actors. And this is why I kind of liked this movie. I liked its characters, especially the flawless (sorry but I had to) rendition of the over-the-top drag queen as delivered by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who covered all the basics a la THE BIRDCAGE, but also powered through the scenes featuring his own emotional battles versus the outside world. Give this man an Oscar nod, for God's sakes. He's good. He's very good! DeNiro is also good, but for some reason I felt like I'd seen him do this whole schtick before. AWAKENINGS maybe? Anyway, you still have to admire a man who need not continue to play roles of physically challenged people, but does so in order to challenge his own acting chops to a higher degree.

Knowing DeNiro though, I was laughing to myself at the beginning of the film as I thought about how many months of handball lessons he must've taken for that one-minute scene featured in this movie. You gotta love those method actors! Solid performances aside, there wasn't much more of consequence in this film. And whatever else they did have in there wasn't all that good and seemed out of place. It's unfortunate because whenever I felt as though I was just getting to know these two characters better, the film took me out of my element and through some cockamamie plot-line featuring an evil local drug lord who was chasing the money that some punkass kid had stolen from him. Of course, all this also lead to a thriller-type ending, which seemed completely out of place in this film, when a deeper emphasis on the characters, especially the drag queen's personal life, which was barely touched upon, would have been much better appreciated. As you can see, this was quite a split decision on my part. I dug the performances, especially Hoffman's standout role as the woman caught in a man's body, but didn't much care for the side-tracked story a la RANDOM HEARTS (5/10). So see it if you want to see a couple of solid actors doing their "thang", but skip it if you're looking for a good story.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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