Plot: What’s it about?
Walter Koontz (Robert DeNiro) used to be a police officer, and one of the finest in the game at that. He now works as a security guard, and his life isn’t really in the place where he wants it to be. Living in a dilapidated apartment complex with neighbors he doesn’t care for, Koontz longs for the days when he would save people, and be able to play the hero from time to time. So when he hears the cries of a neighbor who seems to be in trouble, of course he sees the chance to regain that feeling of helping someone, being the hero. But in the process of making an attempt to answer the calls, Koontz is struck down by a stroke, which leaves him paralyzed on the right side and unable to speak as well as he could before. In order to regain his speech skills, his doctor recommends voice lessons, but finding someone doesn’t prove easy for Koontz. The only option seems to be one of his least favorite neighbors, a drag queen with musical talents, Rusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The two seem like an odd couple like no other, but both men might discover they have more in common than they would ever care to admit.
My expectations for this movie were mixed from the start. When I saw the names Robert Deniro and Philip Seymour Hoffman on the cover, I knew I was in for excellent leading performances. But when I noticed the film was written and directed by Joel Schumacher, my doubts began to set in. I like some of Schumacher’s work as a director, but I had serious doubts about his writing ability. Now I’ve seen the film a couple times, and I can say I was surprised on both counts. I expected good acting from the leads, but they went above and beyond my expectations, very good chemistry between these two. As far as the writing, it wasn’t great, but it was good, and I enjoyed the film even more the second time around. The storyline and characters are pretty predictable, but it never works against the film, I still liked the characters and found the plot interesting, even when it switched lanes a few times. I think those in the mood for strong character acting and a blend of comedy and drama should look into this movie, as well as Deniro fans, this is a performance not to be missed. A rental should work for most folks, but the disc is good enough to add to your personal collections as well.
This film was written and directed by Joel Schumacher, who has quite a resume under his belt. While he’s better known as a director, Joel has written a few other films, including Car Wash, St. Elmo’s Fire, and D.C. Cab. What Schumacher does best is direct, although many have issues with his take on the Batman series. Myself, I enjoy several of his films, such as Falling Down, 8MM, The Lost Boys, and A Time To Kill. He might catch a lot of heat from others, but Joel is in my good book, for sure. This film contains some supporting roles, but without a doubt, the leads carry this film more than most leads do. And what a pair of gifted leads this film has, with Robert Deniro and Philip Seymour Hoffman handling the reins. Deniro (Casino, Raging Bull) is one of the most talented actors of all time, and he is a perfect fit for this role. Opposite Deniro is the up and coming actor Hoffman (Happiness, Patch Adams), who seems to thrive on unusual roles in lesser films. These two show amazing chemistry at times, and the characters come through very well. The supporting cast includes Chris Bauer (Cradle Will Rock, The Devil’s Advocate), Barry Miller (The Last Temptation of Christ, Saturday Night Fever), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Wild Things, Lotto Land), and Rory Cochran (Empire Records, Dazed and Confused).
Video: How does it look?
Flawless is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Overall, this image is very good, but it shows some wear signs that shouldn’t present in such a recent film, and some minor compression troubles show up here and there. While these errors are worth mentioning, you won’t notice them too much, because in the grand scheme, the rest of the visuals look terrific. The colors are vibrant and full, sometimes almost leaping off the screen, and flesh tones are natural and distortion free as well. Contrast is deep and consistent also, with great shadow layering and no visible detail loss to speak of. All in all, a good transfer, even with a few minor issues.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is a dialogue driven film, so you might not expect much out of the audio, but you’d be wrong in that assumption. This Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is awesome, and sets a terrific atmosphere for the events depicted in the film. When the soundtrack kicks in, the surrounds will be at work the hardest, giving the music a rich and full scope, the track is excellent in this regard. The surrounds also have some good spatial effects and subtle audio use, so you’ll hear them even when the music dies down. The front channels are also in top form, giving the dialogue a crisp, loud, and consistent level, no problems at all to report with the vocals.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains the original theatrical trailer and a collectible booklet with production notes.