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Flawless 1999

R CC

A retired security guard (Robert De Niro), deeply conservative and set in his ways, falls victim to a debilitating stroke. His doctors prescribe an extensive program of physical therapy once he's released from the hospital, including singing lessons to help him regain his full powers of speech. As it turns out, there's a vocal instructor living next door to the guard, so he signs up only to discover that his new teacher is a flamboyant drag queen awaiting a sex-change operation (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Starring:
Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Runtime:
1 hour, 50 minutes

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 15, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
`Flawless' is an offbeat story about Walter Koontz (Robert De Niro) an ex-cop who suffers a stroke and loses partial ability to speak. In an effort to regain some of his speech capabilities it is recommended to him that he take singing lessons. So he decides to ask his neighbor Rusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who is a female impersonator, to give him singing lessons. This is an unlikely pairing because Walter is a belligerent homophobe.
This film was written and directed by Joel Schumacher. His story, though peculiar, makes some powerful points. This is a story about hatred, bigotry and reconciliation. Walter learns through his disability who his friends really are, and who they are not. It seems that the people he hates treat him a lot better than the people he thought he loved. Ultimately, he is able to look past his prejudices to find the human elements that make him and Rusty not so different after all.
This was an excellent character study of both main characters, giving a lot of insight into the motivations and lives of each. Unfortunately, the story meanders too often to irrelevant characters and scenes that don't really contribute much (like the Gay Republicans). Schumacher would have been better to concentrate on the relationship between Walter and Rusty rather than digressing so frequently into Rusty's relationships with his friends.
De Niro was outstanding in this film. Not only was he excellent in the emotional portrayal of a man having to deal with a sudden debilitating stroke, but he was very realistic in his portrayal of the physical disability itself. The combination of his struggles to do the simplest of tasks and the obvious look of anguish and frustration on his face was poignant and affecting.
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Format: VHS Tape
This film is a fine blend of superior acting and great humor about subject matter that could, in less capable hands, be tragic or worse yet, maudlin. Joel Schumacher, director of *St. Elmo's Fire* and *Batman and Robin*, among others, does a really excellent job here. Nothing needs to be said about the skills of veteran actor Robert DeNiro. Philip Seymour Hoffman, a young actor who has rightfully come into his own in the past decade, gives one of his best and most insightful performances.
DeNiro is Walter, a decorated hero of the NYPD, who suffers a stroke that affects him emotionally as well as physically. His doctor suggests singing lessons to help him improve his speech. Rather than be seen in public any more than necessary, Walter asks Rusty (Hoffman), another tenant in his apartment building who coordinates a drag queen stage show, to give him the lessons. The fun begins immediately, as these two have had a mutual dislike for each other from their earliest encounters.
Critics have said, among other things, that: (1) the dialogue between Rusty and Walter is cliche-ridden and (2) the film seems to say that all gay men in NYC are either drag queens or "log cabin Republicans." Rubbish! Walter's comments to Rusty at the beginning of their relationship are the usual things you would expect to hear from a homophobic male. Rusty's comebacks are as often as not laugh-out-loud funny, as well as very wise, and they definitely show his strength of character.
As for the alleged limited depiction of the NYC male homosexual population, it is really a matter of "birds of a feather flock together." The movie doesn't pretend to give an overall view of the gay/lesbian population in NY or anywhere else.
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Comment 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
How on earth did this movie get made? It's so offbeat, such improbable fodder for the movie mill of Hollywood, so, so, so.... So over the top in every way. Two very special and talented actors hold down the story. DeNiro plays a homophobic cop who is trying to recover from a debilitating stroke; he starts by taking singing lessons from his neighbor, played by the incomparable Philip Seymour Hoffman, a pathetic drag queen who is trying to save up enough money for a sex change operation.
Well. You can imagine the looks DeNiro gives him, the comments, the eye-rolls, as Hoffman vamps or slumps around in a kimono or wig or feathered scarf. Really, really good stuff. You suspect DeNiro will emerge from this encounter as a more tolerant man, and you would be correct - but that's not the end of the tale.
There's another whole plot line about drug deals and stolen money that comes up against the gay community and the drag queens, prostitutes of all three sexes, the cops (both honest and dis) - and when the goons come to call, you fear that these people you've come to care about will come to a sad fate.
I won't say more. Just don't miss it.
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Format: VHS Tape
I rented this video by mistake -- literally. I had chosen another film but when I got home the wrong film was inside the box. I had never heard of this 1999 movie but it was starring Robert DeNiro and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who I just seen play a wonderful character role as the writer in State and Main, and so I decided to watch it.
The theme is interesting. Robert DeNiro plays an aging former security guard who lives in a run-down apartment house peopled by some weird and interesting characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman is cast as the drag queen across the courtyard who taunts the homophobic DeNiro who amuses himself by paying for women he meets at a sleazy dance hall.
Then DeNiro has a stroke. When he is released from the hospital his helplessness makes him contemplate suicide. His physical therapist recommends singing lessons to help his slurred speech. "At least you'll be able to have phone sex" says the therapist. As Philip Seymour Hoffman is a singing teacher, these two fine actors are thrown together for some excellent scenes. Usually drag queen characters play comic roles but his is a very serious part, as is DeNiro's. I understand also that DeNiro visited rehabilitation centers and worked with a physical therapist in order to get the speech and physical problems of a stroke victim correct. This authenticity comes through in his outstanding acting. There's much to say in this film about courage and compassion. The chemistry between the two actors make it all very real.
It's too bad that the rest of the film is of the Grade B variety. There's some silly plot about a drug deal and hidden cash and some bad guy gangster scenes that are overacted and feel like the amateur hour. There's too many stereotype characters who live in the apartment house.
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