dir-scr Joel Schumacher
with Robert DeNiro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Skipp Sudduth, Barry Miller, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Wanda De Jesus, Rory Cochrane, Vincent Laresca, Madhur Jaffrey, Mark Margolis
MGM 99/US 1 out of 5 stars

Review by Rich Cline
The premise may be intriguing, but Flawless fails on virtually every front due to the increasingly hackneyed writing and direction of Joel Schumacher. How he manages to stay atop the A-list is anyone's guess after debacles like this, Batman & Robin and, urg, 8mm. And how does he attract such terrific actors as DeNiro and Hoffman?

Walt Koontz (DeNiro) is a homophobic security guard disabled by a stroke, who turns to a neighbour, the flamboyant drag queen Rusty (Hoffman), for help with speech therapy. These two men quite obviously hate each other, yet they persevere and develop a sort of uneasy friendship and respect. But eventually the vicious crime that triggered Walt's stroke comes back to threaten their lives.

I'm sorry, but this must be one of the worst screenplays made into a big-budget movie, ever. The characters are superficial, the jokes cheap and unfunny, the issues simplistically handled, the storyline predictable (although at least we're spared a DeNiro-in-drag scene!). It's so jaw-droppingly dire that you think DeNiro and Hoffman must have been working from another document altogether. As usual their performances are subtle and clever, drawing insight and meaning out of the script's thin air. But the bombast around them makes them look ridiculous and leaves their dialog sounding like an unfunny TV comedy sketch. Schumacher is clearly trying to make a point about acceptance, tolerance and humanity, but the film is far too obvious ... and far too much. Every straight person hates homosexuals; every gay man is flaming (except the Gay Republicans, who are also painfully stereotyped). And Schumacher's turgid direction flattens any scene with potential. It's all so incredibly bad that you're pinned to the cinema seat like a rabbit headlights. Can it really be this awful? Oh yes it can. Just wait until the closing credit sequence.

[15--themes, language, violence] 20.Jun.00
US release 26.Nov.99; UK release 24.Nov.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall