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USA 1999
Directed by
Joel Schumacher
111 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars


It is hard to believe how, with so many talented and experienced people involved in this film, it could be so bad. Written, for no apparent reason, by director Joel Schumacher, it tells the story of the relationship between a low rent drag queen (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a homophobic former cop (Robert De Niro) who suffers a stroke while trying to prevent an assault in their shared East Side digs.

For a while the premise looks like it might have potential, but by the midway mark it has exhausted any suspicion in that direction and proceeds to become increasingly desperate as it tries to plug the gaps in the drama with strident posturing and hackneyed plotting.  Contrary to its title, Flawless is the kind of film that you watch slack-jawed with incredulity as it grows progressively worse.

De Niro, recalling his work in Awakenings, spends most of the film pretending with limited success to play a stroke victim by talking out the side of his mouth.  It’s a commendable effort but not a particularly successful one (in a late scene in which he has a shouting match with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Busty Rusty he actually breaks into near normal speech). Hoffman, on the other hand, spends the entire time as a florid drag queen. As a campy performance it's quite a step to the left for the actor but alsonot a particularly convincing one. William Hurt's comparable turn in Kiss Of The Spider Woman was similarly stereotypical but much more effective. But then he didn't have to deal with Schumacher.

Full blame must go to Schumacher for the disastrous script which manages to cite every gay cliché from the Wizard of Oz to Liberace and who in lieu of any palpable relationship between the two lead characters props up the film with a bog-standard story about thugs pursuing stolen drug money, leading to an action finale which must rate as one of the inept ever committed to film, certainly by Schumacher, but probably any A-list director. A stinker.




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