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Having watched Scent of a Woman for a second time, I'm still impressed
by the final speech made by Al Pacino, who played the blind Colonel
Frank Slade. Frank Slade is a retired lieutenant Colonel in the U.S.
army. He lost his eyesight to some stupidities a few years ago as he
became cranky and gruff. Although he can't see, he really got a gift in
telling the perfume of women's. Chalie Simms played by Chris O' Donnel
is a prep school student who comes to Slade's house to earn some extras
by "babysitting" him. Slade then takes Charlie to New York city where
he plans to kill himself after fulfilling his last few wishes. Hence
their adventure begins.
Basically, it's a two-man movie centered on Colonel Slade and preppy Charlie. But the two really did a great job in the movie, especially the acting of Al Pacino as Colonel Slade. Al Pacino's interpretation of the cranky but perceptive blind Colonel is totally believable. He looks as natural as a blind man in the movie, and he draws a fine line between well-performing to overacting. People grows on the gruff Colonel quickly, and personally, all that left to me at the end of the movie is an original, funny and respectful man that I wish to make friends with.
There are also some funny lines in the movie and Colonel Slade's words are always thought-provoking especially the final speech!! Needless to say, Al Pacino's Oscar of Best Actor is well-deserved for his excellent performance in this movie. Hoo-ha, thumbs up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Al Pacino's eyes and voice- there's nothing better than that in cinema.
At least that's my impression after finally having seen Scent of a
Al Pacino's Slade is heartbreaking, there's no embarrassment in saying it. There is a tremendous amount of sadness in his eyes, it's the sheer desperation of a passionate man trapped inside by his disability. He delivers his speeches with such incredible strength, heart-wrenching vulnerability and irresistible charm... And the whole thing will never descend into cheap melodrama. Pacino's eyes, as I was saying, make the entire movie, and it's amazing how he can display such subtle nuances despite not focusing on anything. Slade is a tragic figure and one of the most complex, memorable personalities ever created in film.
Chris O'Donnell also deserves credit for his portrayal of another lost soul. It's hard to imagine someone else doing this part, that's how well he inhabits the role.
The only problem is with the Hollywood style" unrealistically optimistic ending. On the other hand, the entire movie is so emotionally devastating up until the final scene, that I'm actually thankful it ended on a positive note.
The moral lesson (Slade's courtroom speech) might be unfashionable these days, but I find it commendable, especially because it has become something of a rarity in cinema. No ending and no flaws in the script could possibly diminish Pacino's performance, which remains amazingly real and touching.
Pacino's Col. Slade is a portrait of turmoil. Not because he's blind, but because he's never been able to rise above the blindness and still find peace with himself and with the world. One of the great tragic characters of recent years. His story is much like Hickey's in "Iceman Cometh" or Howard Beale's in "Network." They never think they do good in the world with what they have, so they find themselves in this dark hole and they stay there. No one can help them out. No one looks after them. No one feels what they feel. As years go on and opportunities are lost, the dark hole gets filled with a lot anger, sorrow and possibly regret. Can they be healed? Do they want to be healed? In "Scent of a Woman," Pacino presents this dark, gloomy character perfectly in his Oscar winning performance. He overwhelms you with his constant bellowing and ordering of O'Donnell's Charlie. He's a man who never left the Military. My guess is that you can never take the military of out the man, only the man out of the military. He doesn't blame anyone or anything for his blindness. He's man who thinks that somehow, he was destined to "tour the battlefield" this way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Scent of a Woman is a drama film directed by Martin Brest that tells
the story of a preparatory school student who takes a job as an
assistant to an irascible, blind, medically retired Army officer. It
stars Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, James Rebhorn, Philip Seymour
Hoffman, and Gabrielle Anwar.
Driven by an extravagant, tour-de-force performance by Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman is the story of Frank Slade, a blind, retired army colonel who hires Charlie Simms, a poor college student on the verge of expulsion, to take care of him over Thanksgiving weekend. At the beginning of the weekend, Frank takes Charlie to New York, where he reveals to the student that he intends to visit his family, have a few terrific meals, sleep with a beautiful woman and, finally, commit suicide. The film follows the mismatched pair over the course of the weekend, as they learn about life through their series of adventures.
By the end of the film, we have arrived at the usual conclusion of the coming-of-age movie, and the usual conclusion of the prep school movie. But rarely have we been taken there with so much intelligence and skill.Also,the story is a little contrived and predictable, it pulls all the right strings, thanks to O'Donnell's sympathetic supporting role and Pacino's powerful lead performance, for which he won his first Academy Award.It might soar on Al Pacino's performance more than the drama itself, but what a performance it is -- big, bold, occasionally over- the-top.
A Extremely Well Acted movie probably fully due to the extraordinary
performance from Al Pacino as a retired blind army officer, along with
a good performance from Chris O'Donnell and a great script consisting
of witty and great dialogues.
The Movie is about a retired blind army officer Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade(Pacino), who is taken care of by a Student Charlie Simmers(O'Donnell) as they go to New York for the Thanksgiving Weekend,and how they make a father-son like relationship while on their trip to New York, with Charlie not anticipating the things which Frank would do in their trip,and not expecting the things to happen between them in the trip.
Al Pacino does an out of the world type of a performance as Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade who is blind but can do no other blind men can do, and his performance is quite simply one of the best i have seen in my life. His expressions, movement, dialogue delivery and acting is flawless in the movie and sometimes you forget that he is actually acting. Chris O'Donnell does a good supporting job as a school student who is need of some money and agrees to take care or babysit of this fiery character.
The Director does a good job with the other things of the film. The Screenwriter did a superb job with the screenplay and wrote some excellent dialogues which were perfectly delivered by Pacino. The Background music in the movie is also quite good and is beautifully synchronised with the scenes.
Al Pacino gives one of the best performances by a film actor i have seen and makes this movie into a must watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
WHAT A FILM---masterpiece. From start till end i loved each and every moment. Sir Al PACINO he is a brilliant actor. Things that i loved about this movie are simple story with soul touching moments, a MANLY way of AL PACINO and the young boys vulnerable personality!! i must admit that i'm not a critic or even a good judge, but this film made my eyes misty, there was so much to learn. HOW CAN I BE THAT PERSON WHO AT ANY TIME or PLACE WITHOUT ANY HESITATION WOULD STAND UP like an ALPHA MALE and would not only make thinks better or best, but would make them MIND BOGGLING!!and full of surprise!! i again say MUST WATCH for all who seek for an inspiration (a confident, rock solid and triumphed MAN)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's hokey and predictable but I enjoyed it. You need a feel good movie
once in a while. It's cheaper than Xanax.
Pacino won an Oscor for his portrayal of a blind and hopeless retired Army colonel, intent on one last expensive fling in New York before offing himself, and he deserved it. Unlike some other actors of his age who showed equal skill in their careers -- Jack Nicholson, for instance -- he hasn't settled into a well-worn and familiar groove. He seems to bring something a little fresh to every role. I think he was nominated seven times for an Academy Award before finally getting this one, for whatever such an award is worth.
His best-known scene is the tango he does in the ballroom of the Pierre Hotel with Gabriel Anwar. She's had dance training but you couldn't tell from this scene. Pacino isn't much of a dancer but he doesn't have to be. Like the other guests in the room, Anwar and Pacino are swept up in the dramatic rhythm of the Argentine tune, which I think is called "Por una cabeza," something about a horse race. Anyone who wants to see the dance done expertly, which is quite a sight, should check out Carlos Saura's "Tango." Gabriel Anwar is beautiful, elegant, exotic -- and she can act too. It's a small but memorable role and a rather complicated one, but she manages it exquisitely. It's the kind of part for which Jane Alexander won a Supporting Actress award for "All the President's Men." Too bad Anwar didn't get more prominence on the screen.
The story itself -- preppie in a quandary takes a temporary job as Pacino's guide on his last fling -- is corny and familiar. If it had been made anywhere outside of Hollywood Pacino might have succeeded in blowing his brains out in the Waldorf Astoria. As it is, he is rescued and restored to his spiritual life by Chris O'Donnell as the troubled preppie.
Back at the prestigious prep school, in an anticlimax, Pacino gets to save O'Donnell's hide by making the kind of unrelentingly brutal and honest speech about the meaning of "honor" that is usually reserved for the summations of heroic defense counsels. He bellows and waves his hands. The student body gives him a standing ovation and the stern headmaster, James Rebhorn, slumps in frustration. I felt a little sorry for Rebhorn. After all, it was he and his shiny new car that were under the giant balloon full of white paint when it was popped. He hadn't done anything to deserve it, and it was a trick dirty enough to pee off the Pope.
O'Donnell hasn't been seen that much since this movie was released. He's the perfect prep school kid though. He looks just right, and wardrobe has given him a big help. And his voice has the high, piping quality of a boy just out of adolescence. As his, squeamish friend, Philip Seymoure Hoffman is inventive, if at times obvious. He's become a fine actor though.
In the most tense scene, Pacino dons his dress uniform preparatory to shooting himself. It's a Lieutenant Colonel's uniform. I have a suggestion for the United States Army. Stop handing out so many campaign ribbons, badges, medals, name plates, and the other junk that festoons his chest. It's beginning to look a little Latin American, fellas.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A fine Prep School student,on a scholarship, takes a Thanksgiving 'Baby
Sitting' job to look after a retired Army Colonel whose family are away
for a vacation-little did he realize the much decorated soldier is
blind,depressed and almost welcoming death . The soldier has little
left to live for,so with his family away plans a few days living it up
with the student as his seeing eye dog in New York.Off they go staying
at the Waldorf and having a fine old time,as almost a finale to his
life,planning suicide as the final solution to his blind misery.In this
touching situation the student copes amazingly well,even though he
himself as to decide how to manage a school situation when he might
have to 'snitch' on his school chums who have seriously misbehaved -
his choice is to stay silent,even though this choice would mean
expulsion- then comes Al Pacino to show what makes this movie
outstanding-a wonderfully moving speech showing the students COURAGE
AND INTEGRITY to remain silent.
This is so well done,superb acting and a well deserved Oscar makes this movie a Classic - and one we should remember for its message- Integrity,and Courage to stand up for what one believes in are lessons we all need to practice and live by!
I shouldn't be reviewing this movie in the first place. Every person
with a strong love for cinema should have seen this by now. But hey, if
you are one of those rare cases that missed out on this movie due to
some unforeseeable twist of fate, then by all means, please read on.
Translated and re-scripted into English, this is a re-make of the Italian film "Profumo Di Donna" (1974), or Scent of a Woman. Little can be said about the original Italian movie, except that it served as an inspiration for producing one of the greatest movies Hollywood has ever made. In its entirety, the film is a character study of two very different individuals with just one similarity; the virtue of integrity. Having lost his sight during the service, retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade is resented by his family due to his profane outspokenness and tongue in cheek sarcasm, amplified by his total disregard for other people's pity. While his family prepares for an out of town Thanksgiving holiday trip, prep school student Charlie Simms answers an advertisement to look after Slade till the latter's family returns. Within minutes of meeting Slade, Charlie is flustered and insulted. As a scholarship hopeful for Harvard, Charlie needs the extra money for his Christmas holidays and reluctantly agrees to "babysit" Slade. Unknown to Charlie, Slade has other plans, including a first class trip to New York. Arriving in the Big Apple, both men confront each other, where Charlie faces a disciplinary procedure that threatens his collage scholarship, while Slade has a few wishes to fulfill before "blowing his brains out".
By the end of this review, I will have justified why Al Pacino is one of my favorite actors of all time. For now, let's leave that last statement out of the equation. Out of the staggering eight times Al Pacino has been nominated for an Academy Award, this is the first and only time he has won an Oscar for his leading role as the unbelievably difficult Colonel Slade. This in itself is an indication of Pacino's powerhouse performance in this movie. With absolutely no doubt in my mind, I can confidently say that there isn't any other actor alive today, who could have played Slade like the way Pacino did. To me it doesn't matter if Pacino receives another Academy Award, because if there ever was an actor born to play a particulate role, then there can be no greater example that this. Pacino's greatest achievement in this film is making the audience like his character despite his utter loathsomeness. There is so much depth to his character, yet you can't take your eyes off him because you don't want to miss a second of what he will do or say next. Speaking of which, Al Pacino has to be the single most dialogue savvy actor there is or ever has been. I am not sure if his one-liners are specially written for him or whether he improvises on the script, but some of the greatest lines by an actor has been uttered by this man. If not only for his acting prowess, his one-liners will be his final legacy to the world of motion pictures. Then there are the facial expressions. Besides his excellence in portraying a blind man, Pacino's Slade really comes to life when describing the beauty of a woman; her essence in creation and her distinct perfume. Ooh Ha! In this regard, one of the highpoints of the film is Al Pacino's tango with Gabrielle Anwar; Poignant, everlasting, and with his facial expressions, poetry in motion. Incidentally, Anwar's recognition into mainstream cinema follows this short but memorable tango with Pacino.
Another actor who credits this movie as his call to fame is Chris O'Donnell. As the young Charlie Simms, this is O'Donnell in his defining moment as an upcoming actor. Evidently, there is a lot of work put in attempting to measure up to Pacino's on screen presence. Even so, O'Donnell holds his ground and is perfectly cast opposite Pacino. Together, they make a great team, and by the end of the movie, they are almost father-son like. Two other standouts are Philip Seymour Hoffman as Charlie's two-faced friend and James Rebhorn as the headmaster they pull a prank on. While the latter is great as the pompous headmaster, Hoffman is excellent as a rich kid and Charlie's seemingly caring friend.
Also nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Director and Best Picture), this is Martin Brest in easily his best directorial feature ever. There isn't a single loose or drab moment in the film's two and half hours of run time. Overall, this is an excellent film with no perceivable flaws. Brest maintains relevance to the plot on hand without giving in to the temptation of speculating Slade's days in the army or what makes him a bitter person. However, Brest's real success is in bringing out messages of courage and integrity as perceived by two very opposite individuals. By the end of the film, Brest's message is loud and clear, irrespective of Charlie's and Slade's perceptions.
If you haven't seen this movie, or if you are not a movie person, you have missed out on one of the greatest moments in cinema history. However, it is never too late to treat yourself to one of the greatest movies ever made. Mark this down as a "must see".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My first remembrance of an Academy Award ceremony concurred with my
favorite actor winning the Oscar ... but the movie for which he won
seemed too serious for the 11-year old boy I was. And with the passing
of years, I discovered Al Pacino's glorious filmography, through
"Scarface", "The Godfather" trilogy, "Carlito's Way", "Heat", "Dog Day
and "Scent of a Woman" for a mysterious reason
was a movie that I wasn't in a hurry to watch. How wrong I was : as
soon as I finally finished the film, I knew I just saw Al Pacino's role
that cut straight into my heart the most directly, after Michael
"Scent of a Woman" is a two-hour and half movie that never seems too long because it absolutely knows where it goes. The slow pacing is important as it provides enough time to be familiar with the two main characters : Chris O'Donnell as Charlie Simms, a shy young 17-year old boy who studies on aid in Baird, a prestigious prep school and Al Pacino as Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, a flamboyant, crude and rude war veteran blind since an accidental drunk game. They couldn't have been more opposite but as we expect in a script whose intelligence emanates from the first minutes, we'll get to know more beyond these archetypal facades and each character will learn about and from the other. It's a coming of age story lead by one of the most memorable and inspiring characters of the last decade : Colonel Slade, with his priceless onomatopoeic motto : "Hoo-ah!".
Charlie Simms is an insecure student whose modest background impacted his personality. He's surrounded by arrogant daddy's boys, among them, George Willis, a young scene-stealing Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Charlie's financial situation makes him an obvious outcast in the prestigious Baird School, forced to accept a weekend job, to earn money. His job would be to nurse a grumpy and totally obnoxious old man, unknowing that he's just about to live the most important days in his life, with New York as the setting. Meanwhile, he and George happen to be the unintentional witnesses of the setting of what would be a humiliating prank. The victim is played by the ultimate character actor of the 90's, James Rebhorn as Trask, the school's headmaster. Charlie and George have all the weekend to think about the eventuality of denouncing their friends under the threat of exclusion, an unbearable ethic dilemma for Charlie. And we quite understand the incertitude and anguish he'll display all through his trip with Colonel Slade.
The movie literally takes off when Charlie and Slade move to New York, and we get to know more about the Colonel and understand the fascination he inspires us. He's a man whose blindness developed other sensory powers that target one specific category of persons : women. No other character spoke of women like Colonel Slade, who developed a particular ability to identify any feminine fragrance. The trip to New York will be the opportunity for Charlie to have a small taste of all the pleasures that can govern our lives : eating, drinking, dancing a tango with a beautiful girl like Donna, a name that resonates as a probable homage to the original Italian movie, Dino Risi's "Profumo di Donna" and speaking of Italians, there is also riding a Ferrari, and trying an awkward but sincere reconciliation with the family, and ultimately fighting the inner demons. Beyond the whole mentor-disciple relationship, darker undertones are hidden : Slade's eagerness to seize each hour, each moment of the precious weekend, are the morbid allegory of the last meal before execution. Slade basically savors some last pleasures before shooting himself to death. And then it's time for Charlie to overcome his passive nature before it's too late.
This is the aspect that definitely marks the movie's greatness. Slade learns that we never have nothing to lose for suicide is the ultimate failure, and a total waste because nothing is never worth to be enjoyed just because we're blind, crippled, or have no money. Simms mirrors Slade's condition during a heartbreaking climactic moment that will consolidate their friendship, when both of them are in dead-ends. Simms learns that George's father will probably interfere and that he might defend his case alone but how could Slade be in a dead end, with all he taught to Charlie during a memorable weekend. These scenes are realistically handled, avoiding what could have been cinematic stereotypical sappiness. And at these moments, you understand that no other actor could have played the character with such fierce intensity in his lifeless eyes.
The movie concludes with the resolution of the Baird case where Slade, as a moral debt, decided to defend his protégé and new friend Charlie. In one hell of a speech like only Al Pacino, with his volcanic voice, could have delivered, he spits on the hypocrisy of a system that condemns the high morality of a boy who refuses to snitch, and spare the one who talked, under the control of daddy. It's Kirkland, Wortzik and Serpico resurrecting in a histrionic virtuosity and metamorphosing a bunch of puppets-students into wannabe men. The movie's inspirational message of integrity rewards two hours of a patient character study as finally, Charlie Simms also opened the eyes of Colonel Slade during that weekend.
And as many noticed, there's the beautiful melody of "City lights" that inhabits the film. I think this is also a nice touch that reminded us of the true universal message that I mentioned in my review of Chaplin's masterpiece, quoting the French writer Antoine de Saint Exupery : "it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye", that's what Charlie's initiation, a lesson even Colonel Slade was about to forget, but fortunately, did not. Hoo-ah!
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