What did RAMA think of this film based on a true story? Make sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
First of all, I think they should’ve kept the memoir title for the movie, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, doesn't that sound awesome! But of course I understand that the marketing folks would have a hard time getting approval to plaster that on billboards and TV spots. Secondly, BEING FLYNN forcefully uses the condition of the homeless for its agenda, it’s basically a story of a son who doesn't want to live in his father’s shadow and a delusional, stubborn father who thinks his son owes him the world. All that is wrapped in this ‘look how worse the homelessness in our society has gotten’ costume…
Academy Award-nominated writer-director Paul Weitz (ABOUT A BOY) turns his hand to this moving portrait of fathers and sons. Based on a true story, BEING FLYNN follows Nick Flynn (Paul Dano of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, THERE WILL BE BLOOD) who is shocked to have his eccentric and long-absent father, Jonathan (two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro) reach out to him unexpectedly. Still feeling the loss of his mother (played in flashbacks by four-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore) in the midst of starting a new relationship with Denise (JUNO’s Olivia Thirlby), the last person Nick wants to see is his father. But you can’t outrun fate and slowly Nick comes to realize he has been given the chance to make a real future not only for himself, but for his struggling father too.
Director Paul Weitz, though Oscar nominated for About A Boy, previously brought us Little Fockers and Cirque Du Freak, so my not having much faith in Paul Weitz’s BEING FLYNN is somewhat justified. The movie is based on Nick Flynn’s memoir but the way it’s done is by dual narrative, you get to hear it from Jonathan’s (Robert De Niro) and Nick himself (Paul Dano).
I gotta tell ya, it’s a treat to see De Niro drive a taxi in this film, it’s like watching the return of Travis Bickle now in his twilight years.
The movie works for those who grew up not having other people’s regular family design. The absence of a father, and a mother that can’t keep herself together. The tone is dark and slightly depressing, even the humor heavily relies on Jonathan (De Niro) thinking he’s the next big deal, the greatest author in his own head.
If you’ve watched movies in recent years, you’d know that the two-time Oscar winning actor De Niro hasn’t been giving his best work for quite some time, his performance in BEING FLYNN is probably the first mild reminder that he’s still got it, that he’s still the actors’ actor. De Niro passionately expresses his character’s anger, racism, delusion, and stubbornness, Jonathan is the kind of person you just can’t reason with because he won’t admit defeat and he won’t break.
Paul Dano is a young talent who’s proven again and again that he could go toe to toe with the greats, the likes of Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine), Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) and now this. I hope Dano takes good notes from those guys because I strongly believe if he plays his card right, he too will be great soon enough. But I’m not too keen on Dano’s character in this film, it seems that Dano is just responding to De Niro, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I think that’s what’s been keeping Dano from greatness, he’s got this chance to step up and yet all he does is just reacting, he doesn’t inventively create something for his character that’s just for his character alone, something that would make his character stand out.
I could see BEING FLYNN being a good wake up call to those who have the tendency to blame others for his own f*ckups. I have to give Weitz and his crew some credit for going above and beyond to make you see how ridiculously inconvenient and dangerous life is for a homeless guy. But at the end of the day, if you don’t want to watch a movie about bickering father and son where the son would yell, ‘I’m not you’ and the father would yell ‘you are me, I made you’ about a thousand times, then I wouldn’t blame you for walking down the hall, turning left and into the screening for the next movie.
GRADE: 2 out of 5
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