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Scent of a Woman
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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Radiates like sunshine from its cosmic center.

Author: budmassey ( from Indianapolis, IN
31 May 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie bears the unflattering moniker "remake." True, it is an adaptation of 1974's "Profumo di donna", but it is so much more.

Al Pacino, a living legend, delivers a spectacular performance. Despite landmark performances in Any Given Sunday, Donnie Brasco, Carlito's Way, The Godfather Trilogy, Glengarry Glen Ross, Scarface, Cruising, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and others, and even after multiple Oscar nominations, Pacino never scored the homerun. This time he hits one out of the park.

Pacino is Lt. Colonel Frank Slade, a retired officer blinded by an accident he caused when drunk. Now he lives with his sister and wallows in what's left of his life, and it's precious little. He dreams of his former life filled with power, prestige and, most of all, the scent of a woman.

Along comes Chris O'Donnell as a prep school student in need of a job. He reluctantly agrees to be Pacino's escort on a last hurrah trip to New York. But The Colonel has a dark purpose, and therefrom arises the story.

I'm not going to tell you how it unfolds. Suffice it to say, it radiates like sunshine from its cosmic center; Pacino. He is magnificent. Proud and yet humiliated. Powerful and powerless. But always in charge. And even blind he can kick the crap out of everyone and everything in his path.

On these levels, the movie is perfectly satisfying. But underneath is a thought provoking premise. A young man learns to savor the true pleasures of life from a broken and blind man bent on ending his own life.

A very young Philip Seymour Hoffman is suitably disagreeable, a trait that appears to come naturally to him, as the unprincipled rich boy who will sell out his friends to save his hide. James Rebhorn is the headmaster, a 90's version of Jeffrey Jones' Edward R. Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. And Bradley Whitford, of The West Wing, is the wiseacre nephew who pushes Uncle Frank a little too far.

Strangely enough, the dark premises from which this movie proceeds lead to a celebration of the joy of living. Beautiful, moving, touching and revealing. Watch it again. You've probably forgotten how good Pacino is.

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11 out of 21 people found the following review useful:


Author: Rick Blaine from London
1 September 2002

Remake of original with Gassman eighteen years earlier.

Scent has a number of things going against it. The original has nary a sympathetic character; Al Pacino bellows his lines, screams his scenes; O'Donnell plays too stiff and unsympathetic a wimp; the school subplot comes out of nowhere; etc.

And I have seen this movie I don't know how many times, and always felt the same: empty. I was glad Pacino won an Oscar for it, but have always felt it was an occasion to give the award, not the reason for it.

So why, when I see it again after so many years, can I suddenly not pull away? Why does it water my eyes and rip at my gut? After several viewings it seems to draw one in like an intense morality play, a rite of passage.

There are some wines that are not ready for drinking at harvest or even soon after, but which get much better with aging. Some turn into legendary wines; others improve but will never be great wines, but not for not trying. Some seem to try very hard.

I think Scent is such a wine. It's Hollywood, it's scripted in Hollywood fashion, it doesn't have the world's easiest premise to begin with, it may never be top drawer, legendary, but give it time and you realise you have a rewarding experience.

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Scent of a Woman

Author: quinimdb from United States
13 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Our first introduction to Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade is behind a thick wall of smoke, sitting next to a bottle of Jack Daniels. He yells at Charlie Simms a lot, the kid who will be taking care of him in order to earn money to spend for his trip to his family during Christmas. He also seems to be stuck in the past, in the days when he was in the army. Oh, and he's blind. Charlie is instantly scared, and is in a lot of trouble in school. He goes to a (fictional) prep school for college, and was seen near the people that were setting up a prank as they were setting it up. However, only him and George Willis Jr were there to see exactly who it was that did it, but George is in the group of people that set up the prank. These kids are spoiled and ridicule Charlie for being poor, as well as ridiculing the headmaster for thinking he is above them thanks to a Jaguar car that he was recently gifted, while also pretty much thinking they are above everyone else. Despite Charlie thinking he is only going to stay a day with the Colonel, once they go to New York (unexpectedly) and he doesn't make it in time for his train. He soon learns Colonel Frank is planning on spending all of his money on a night with his family, a nice night and a nice woman (one of the two things he says he loves, the second being Ferraris). The fact that Colonel has lost his sense of sight and the thing he loves most is women shows how much he has lost, since the only thing he has to go on is their voice, and, well... their scent. Frank learns that George is in trouble and his advice is to "take cover" rather than to face the consequences, as that is what Frank has always done. George doesn't even like these guys, but something is telling him not to do it.

George naturally grows closer to the Colonel, especially after one revealing (and incredibly tense) dinner with his family that shows that not even his family loves him. And it ends with the Colonel choking his niece for several seconds for calling Charlie "Chuck". The most important part of this scene however is when he admits he is a bad person at the end of the scene, showing that he is aware of his flaws. The next day Charlie and Frank go to eat, and end up meeting a girl in a bad relationship who Frank ends up dancing with and Frank is reminded of why he is still living. He is reminded of the pleasures of life, and how the tango, unlike life, "doesn't get tangled for good, you just keep on tangoing". That night George takes the bullets away from Frank to make sure that he won't kill himself. Frank even gives him the last one. The next day, however, Frank doesn't look well. Then George finally gets Frank to drive a Ferrari and it is both terrifying and somewhat funny. He goes way faster than he should and almost crashes a multitude of times, but afterwards, the thrill is gone. Frank goes back to the hotel room, asks George to go get him cigars and liquor and suits up to kill himself. When George gets back however he simply won't let him do it, and from here, Frank points the gun at him. He can't stand to see him sell out to his principles life and go on living a boring and unfulfilled life, because George has too much integrity for that and that's rare. But George still won't give up. As Frank says, he's always stood up to people because it makes him feel important. George stands up to them simply because he has integrity. So that's what George does to him. He reminds him of the great moments of life, like the Ferrari and the tango, and how his life could be those moments. Eventually Frank decides not to do it (but very nearly does) and the scene is both heart-rending and incredibly tense, and Pacinos performance in this scene, no, this movie (specifically this scene, the final scene, and the dinner scene) rival that of the greatest of all time and I mean that. The next courtroom scene show Frank's change in character as well as George's decision to take the right path in life. George doesn't even like the people that he is not snitching on, yet he will not sell out their lives to make his own better, and THAT is integrity. Frank knows many of the men who died in battle who were with him are better men than him, he knows facing the consequences of leading a good life are hard, which is why he has always chosen the easy way out. But being with George has made him realize, as proved by the final scene when Frank is playing with the children he was yelling at in the beginning, that life is only as good as you make it. If you try to have integrity and spread happiness and well being to those around you, even in the toughest situations, you will be happy in the long run. And even though that courtroom scene where Frank delivers his great monologue, and everyone starts clapping sounds a little cheesy, I feel it is earned by the film, because the journey that the characters had been on led them to that defining moment, and the message that comes with it is an important one.

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Melodramatic but affecting

Author: eddie_baggins from Australia
3 July 2016

Made famous by the fact it featured a grandstanding Oscar winning Al Pacino performance and the career making turns of future Robin Chris O'Donnell and future Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run director Martin Brest's Scent of a Woman is a film that by today's standards is a tad too over the top and melodramatic to be highly praised but it's an at times affecting and emotionally powerful portrait of friendship and finding ones place in the world.

Drawing out a seemingly simple set up of odd couple pair in the form of Pacino's blind and disgraced former Army Colonel Frank Slade and O'Donnell's baby faced and non-worldly wise prep school student/makeshift babysitter Charlie Simms going on a life changing weekend trip into a 2 and a half hour meditation on living, loving and tango dancing, Brest struggles to maintain a consistent momentum to the flow of the movie and after a lengthy lead up and a downright cheesy finale, Scent of a Woman stays afloat and becomes something more than it perhaps deserves to be thanks to Pacino and O'Donnell's intriguing partnering.

In what's the very incarnation of an award baiting role, Pacino walks the very fine line of parody and an acting masterclass as the cantankerous and feisty Slade and while he walked away with the golden statue at the1993 Oscars it's hard to say how his performance would be regarded had it come to fruition in today's climate but one suspects a golden statue would not have fallen in his direction.

It's a committed performance by Pacino but his over reliance on yelling of the phrase "hoo-wah" is nicely counteracted by O'Donnell's dialled down (sometimes too much so) turn as the well-meaning Charlie. Between the two actors they find a nice middle ground and make the hard to believe central premise of Scent work despite the fact it's never far away from being purely fanciful in terms of character decisions and the aforementioned over staged finale involving a college court of law.

For all committed Pacino fans Scent of a Woman is must watch as it features the actors most flashy performance outside of Scarface and acts as a reminder as to just how dominate the now sporadically entertaining actor could be as well as a showcase for O'Donnell, who just never quite went on with the talent he showed in his early career.

As for director Martin Brest whose career story is now Hollywood lore, Scent of a Woman marked the last noteworthy entry into the filmmaker's short filmography that was put to a swift and sad end by the one two double pronged attack of cinematic stinkers Meet Joe Black and notorious movie crime that was the 2003 Bennifer led Gigli.

3 ½ intense tango's out of 5

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nice movie with awesome Al Pacino's acting

Author: official-nitinjain from Singapore
3 July 2016

I love this movie very much just thinking why I didn't watch it earlier Nice dialogues delivery by Mr. Slade ( Al Pacino) and nice script writing with description of woman in beautiful way . This is first of Pacino's movie I happen to watch today but love to see others in his list soon Also, I am getting feeling I start loving drama movies too which were too low rated in my list coz they doesn't use to ecite me that much . I am now gonna google and note the awesome dialogues and try to comprehend it and use it sometime in my conversation , good idea :) Overall this movie is all about Pacino's acting which you can say is awesome , majestic , deep , holding you through entire movie

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Finally AL-PACINO got it !!!!!!!

Author: rasheedahsan5 from Pakistan
11 June 2016

I saw the movie few years before and just fell in love with the master class acting of Al-Pacino and brilliantly written movie. The whole movie is a delight to watch and include all sort of thrills and joys that any movie can offer. That's the Al-Pacino I always wanted to see. This movie includes love care and a man's determination and courage. And a well deserved Oscar given movie to Al-Pacino. Although He should get that way before when "serpico" came out or in "carlitos way". Other actors well acted too throughout the movie but Al-Pacino really dominated the acting part and also direction is done in quite a way that it make the movie more love-able. Really liked the movie and I give it 10/10 on any scale of filming and acting.

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Heartbreaking, heartwarming and absolutely remarkable.

Author: Eyad Abu-Zaid from Tanta, Egypt
2 June 2016

This is undoubtedly one of the best and most emotionally mixed movies I've ever seen. It's heartwarming, yet heartbreaking at the same time, all its contradictions are what makes it a great film.

Frank Slade, the old, clumsy, self-centered, rude and blind man is a person we all know and have dealt with (perhaps he's not blind at all cases) and to see him on screen portrayed to absolute perfection was great to see. That complicated, philosophical man with the pessimistic view of life yet he can come up with stuff like "No mistake in the tango, Donna, not like life. Simple. That what makes the tango so great. If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, just tango on!". he couldn't be more right.

And Charlie Simms, the awkward, timid young man that I suppose we can all identify with. The poor college student that feels threatened continuously due to his lack of "support". The support that he later gains.

I saw in these two the father-son relationship that they both lacked and craved, they found it in each other. And because it was chosen by both of them, and wasn't inevitable, it was stronger and more truthful than any other father-son relationship. They absolutely loved each other. They looked tailor-made for each other, and they indeed were.

And Al Pacino. What can you honestly say about him. One of the greatest actors ever. It came as a shock to me when I knew that he didn't win but one academy award. They should be given to him left right and center whether or not he makes a movie, that's how good he is! He absolutely executed the role to absolute perfection, in fact he ejaculated all over the role's Hoo-ah if you will!

Frank Slade was a blind man. A blindness that he was compensated for by his remarkable sense of smell, he could indeed identify a woman's scent effortlessly in a blink of an eye. And if he had been a real person alive among us today, he would have identified the scent of a great movie, the scent of the scent of a woman..

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Woo Haa

Author: view_and_review from California
5 October 2015

I'm at the age where the movies I watched in my youth have been reduced to flashes: a scene here, a quote there, or maybe even just a mood. In my efforts to re-watch/re-experience some of the movies of yesteryear Scent of a Woman crossed my desk. Or should I say, Scent of a Woman was being offered on Amazon Prime which made it free to view. In any case, I was pleased to watch it again with new eyes to really understand the movie.

First of all, I never knew Phillip Seymour Hoffman was in the movie. Granted, he did play a small yet significant role and he wasn't the actor he was when he died, but it was still good to see him and have that, "OMG I didn't know he was in this!" moment. My God did he play such a good rich snobby a-hole. I couldn't help but disdain him in this movie.

Secondly, I'd forgotten that the oft sampled "Woo Haa" from Al Pacino was from this movie. Somehow I thought it was from a lot later movie like "Every Given Sunday" or something in that date range.

As for the movie, it was a classic. Al Pacino plays Frank Slade, a surly old retired military man that became blind. He ended up at his nieces home for care because he annoys or outright angers everyone and she was the only one that would put up with him. He has no regard for social etiquette or the feelings of others, especially when it comes to his own family. Chris O'Donnell is Charlie Simms, a poor teenager attending Baird private school on a scholarship 3000 miles from home. To earn money he agrees to look after Colonel Frank Slade during Thanksgiving break.

The movie hinged upon Al Pacino's performance as most of the movie was just him and Chris. Al Pacino certainly delivered. Not two minutes after Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade was introduced did I find myself wanting poor Charlie to tell him to jump off a bridge and leave him by his blind, lonesome self. Of course there would have been no movie then but there would have been a small bit of satisfaction.

What the movie showed was that everyone has some good and everyone has at least a small part to play in improving the lives of others. Frank Slade, as embittered and abrasive as he was still had some endearing qualities and could still serve a purpose in bettering someone. The tenuous and patronizing relationship between Frank and Charlie grew in only the fashion that a Frank Slade relationship could develop; it was forged in the fires of Frank's drill sergeant tongue and his crusted still-beating heart.

Really, if I enjoyed the movie for anything it was Frank Slade's speech at the end. Many a movie--especially dramas of a certain type--end with an impassioned and portentous speech, but not many of them are good or hit the mark. Scent of a Woman was the exception. Frank entered into a "I'll tell you" tirade in Frank Slade fashion that was only made more striking because of how it was given and the situation in which it was given. It was a wonderful way to end the movie although it didn't end exactly there. Yes, two-and-a-half hours of viewing was worth the three to five minutes of Frank Slade v. Baird School.

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Al Pacino puts in another tour-de-force performance in a flawed, but very impressive film

Author: jimbo-53-186511 from United Kingdom
27 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A cash-strapped student Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell) takes a weekend job babysitting blind retired lieutenant-colonel Frank Slade (Al Pacino). However, Charlie wasn't expecting Frank to decide to up and leave to New York albeit with a spare ticket for Charlie. Being the dutiful minder, Charlie tags along with Frank to New York which ultimately turns out to be a journey that Charlie is unlikely to forget.

The story itself is rather predictable and is something we've seen time and time again; a buddy film where one party is naive and wet behind the ears and the other party is a hard-assed tough as nails individual whereby a personality clash immediately ensues. Of course the two individuals gradually bond and find some common ground (the narrative has to swing this way otherwise there wouldn't be much of a film). Despite the clichéd storyline, Scent From A Woman rises above these clichés and is a very good film for several reasons...

I've no idea what the novel is like, but I thought that Bo Goldman's screenplay was pretty good and what I liked about it is that for the most part it is free from schmaltz and cheese. With Frank being blind, it would have been very easy to have turned this into a pity piece which not only would have made it a weaker film, but it probably would have made the film a waste of Al Pacino's talents. The film essentially has two strands to its story; 1) There is Frank's desire to live life to the full and 2) The various life-lessons that are experienced and shared between Charlie and Frank. Point 1 is quite fun, but doesn't offer enough to carry the film, but point 2 is really where the film is at its strongest. Although its heavily suggested that Frank is giving Charlie the life-lessons I believe that Charlie also gave Frank some valuable life-lessons too. For me, Frank was like a father-figure to Charlie and helped toughen him up and helped him to see things from a different perspective. Whereas Charlie made Frank realise that he had more to live for than he'd initially assumed - his excellent dancing skills, his gift of the gab etc. I think the question that is being asked here is would Charlie and Frank's lives have been different had they never met? Have they come away from their weekend together as better people? My answer to that question is Yes, but I realise this is purely subjective.

Pacino's performance was amazing here and I always feel that portraying a blind person convincingly is a very difficult thing to pull off, but Pacino does it effortlessly. He shouts a lot here, but unlike his cartoonish performance in Scarface it works here (firstly because he is a retired lieutenant-colonel who is used to barking orders at people and more importantly because he's blind - he doesn't know how far people are away from him when he's speaking to them). O'Donnell does his best, but he is no match for Pacino - although he is good in the scene where he's talking Frank out of killing himself.

As much as I enjoyed this film, I feel I need to draw your attention to some flaws with this picture; although Frank isn't necessarily painted as a pity figure here, I did find him to be somewhat of a martyr and not the most likable of individuals - this is made worse when we learn that he's always been an asshole which sometimes made his character a difficult person to care about. The Kangaroo Court scene at the end of the film was quite enjoyable, but was a little too Hollywood for my liking.

Still this film gets a lot more right than wrong and although it isn't the most uplifting of films, it's a film that is funny, chilling, and heartfelt at various stages and is a film that is worthy of your time.

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Great movie!

Author: Joao Baptista from Portugal
31 July 2015

It's a great movie, with a fantastic performance by Al Pacino. O'Donnell plays is role in a good way, but Al Pacino shows why he is considered one of the best actors in the world. He knows when to talk, when to be in silence and he knows the right expression at the right time.

The films doesn't have a plot twist, neither a surprise moment, but it goes fluently and nicely. The tango scene is superb, showing the real meaning of "carpe diem" expression and two great performances.

I really enjoyed this movie and the Oscar Pacino won was totally deserved, because he's fantastic.


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