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Al Pacino won his first and only Oscar for "Scent of a Woman" in 1992
and he deserved it far more for "Glengarry Glen Ross," released the
same year. Although he yells a lot in both pictures, the over-the-top
screaming was justified by the character in "Glengarry Glen Ross"; in
"Scent of a Woman," his Lt. Col. Frank Slade comes across as a gross
caricature, sort of like Robert De Niro in "This Boy's Life." Both
terrific actors made some mistakes in the 1990s: This was Pacino's
largest in my opinion.
First of all, like De Niro in "This Boy's Life," Pacino's fake accent is constantly varying from scene to scene. He's supposed to be from the south and has that southern twang in his voice, and pronounces words "lak dis, y'know." (In fact, he says "y'know" a lot in this movie.) The problem is that the accent comes and goes; sometimes Pacino's got it down-pat, and at other times we feel as though he's playing another character. The end speech in particular careens from Louisiana speech patterns to New York City, y'know.
The movie starts off fair enough but it's so sappy and oozing with cheesy sentimentality that, by its finale, I felt as if I'd seen enough and wanted to turn on something else.
Because basically I've seen something just like this before. It was called "Dead Poet's Society" and it followed the same formula, and carried the same sentimental goo as "Scent of a Woman." Chris O'Donnell delivers the best performance of his career, and outstages Pacino. But the movie -- clocking in at nearly three hours! -- really falls apart in the last act.
Yes, it's nice to feel refreshed by cinema. Frank Capra got away with this endless times - just look at the final speech by Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." The problem is that it's out of place, awkward and unrealistic in "Scent of a Woman," a movie that otherwise proposes it is very real. Pacino rants for about five minutes straight, as if he's reading his lines from "Witty Catchphrases People Will Remember for Years to Come: For Dummies." Overall, Martin Brest has made far better character pieces (just look at "Midnight Run," and that was a comedy!) and although "Scent of a Woman" is NOT a horrible film by any means, I do believe it's quite overrated and too sappy at times to be altogether memorable. It's okay, and worth watching now and again if it happens to come on television, but don't expect the masterpiece some people have made it out to be. It's really quite average, and follows a formula that's been followed far too many times over the years.
For the most part, "Scent of a Woman" is standard Hollywood fare, featuring
a "heartwarming" and "uplifting" story about personal growth, the strength
of friendship, and the discovery that life really isn't so bad after all.
The plot involves a young student (Chris O'Donnell), who agrees to watch
over a blind and embittered ex-colonel (Al Pacino) for Thanksgiving
He then goes on to teach the older man a few lessons about life, while
learning just as much himself. If this sort of relationship sounds
it is because it has been the subject of countless other films (think
"Finding Forrester," for instance). "Scent of a Woman" is at least
redeemed by the presence a few memorable moments, such as the scenes
involving the Tango and the Ferrari.
What really sets this film apart, though, is Al Pacino's brilliant performance. Although he tends to overact on occasion (as in some of his other post-1970s films, such as "Scarface"), he still manages to reveal the complexities of his character in a way that no other actor could have managed. While Chris O'Donnell and James Rebhorn are fine in their roles, it is Al Pacino who gives us a reason to watch this otherwise unremarkable film.
Truly amazing acting by Al Pacino and a long overdue Oscar finally received. Also, O'Donell had a very fine performance. It is incredibly hard to act like Al did, specifically given his condition, but he did a master work in my opinion. Truly recommended for everyone. A masterpiece. Kudos to the director as well. And some scenes, like the dancing are just amazing. The passport to heaven, he says. Isn't that a wonderful statement? I wish there were more films like this made. And a great comeback for Al. If he had to come back from anything, that is. Movies like this are pure inspiration. To fight. And never give up. And thats what Al did. He never gave up.
There's something about this film that keeps you company. It's like you're
also spending the weekend with Colonel Slade. The film entertains your
darkest notions and tops your depth of grief and then somehow elevates you
to find hope amidst our consciously blind existence.
At first I had a problem with Pacino's performance. I thought Al was definitely over-acting. He's playing a man who is consciously suicidal, a man suffering the loss of his dependence. He seems preoccupied in fulfilling a sexual desire but what he really yearns for is the acceptance of a woman now that he's been injured. However, even beyond his glorified apparition of woman what he presently needs is someone, anyone who will listen. He needs someone he can bark orders at like in the past. Some babe in the woods he can bemuse and corrupt amidst the decadence of `Freak Show Central', his personal nickname for New York City. In this contrived situation he finds life again and with these considerations Pacino's bravura performance is forgivable.
Pacino ironically switches energies with O'Donnell's character being the Colonel's high energy defuses Charlie's depressed low energy. The Colonel is psyched for his weekend's desperate romp, `A little tour of pleasures', he says. Given this distinction in performances, Charlie should have been the suicidal one, the defeated one because O'Donnell walks around this film like a deer caught in the headlights and there really isn't anything inspiring or motivating about him. It would have been an awesome acting exercise to have a young actor go against Pacino and realistically attempt to change his character's suicidal mission, granted his whole outlook on life yet what we have is a quick resolution that is very intense but not very intellectual.
In the end, this movie somehow manages to conduct all it's emotional payoffs thus rendering the viewer at the mercy of what may seem bathos. Many have criticized the film as negotiating Hollywood Plot A with Plot B or C. However, the Colonel realizes his biggest failure in life was in his interpersonal relationships. He learns that sometimes having friends can be a stronger and more important bond than family- a point well taken. Sometimes when a film comes together, after all the pre and post production, the result can be undeniably charming and this film manages to soar above its foundations, those manifested in the most basic of premises of melodrama. `Scent Of A Woman' does inevitably work and it's a very heart-warming film.
Wow, it's boring, slow, mundane and uninteresting.
What else is there to say? Maybe it's just me - but I feel that Al Pacino should be pretty much given gangster roles or edgy roles...not roles with preppy kids, trying to explain life to them.
It's overdone monologue which means to protect the dignity of a honour student over some trivial event expands into something so ludicrous that you would think you are watching a serious courtroom drama with something so insanely intense that somebody's life is at stake - while in reality, it's some preppy kid who may or may not have some some idiotic prank.
Big EFFIN deal! Overblown on all counts with nothing to hold it together.
I'm waiting for his return as a gunslinging gangster causing carnage and snorting huge amounts of drugs.
Prep school lad takes weekend job looking after blind, hard-bitten former Army colonel, who is on a personal mission of self-destruction. Adapted from the Giovanni Arpino novel and 1974 Italian film "Profumo Di Donna", this overlong picture directed by Martin Brest is unrestrained, overreaching and ham-fisted. Filmed in autumnal colors (brackish reds and browns), it doesn't even look good. Oscar winner Al Pacino chews the scenery in inelegant fashion--there are few real highlights to his performance because Brest encourages Pacino to treat every scene as a show shopper. Chris O'Donnell is easier to take as his teenage charge, yet the screenplay is obnoxious and continually prods us for a response with 'darkly comic' histrionics. ** from ****
Why am I not surprised that the Oscars honored this film? It's a bad
with only one grace that I could tell. It is pretty funny. Some of the
parts are on purpose, and some of them are products of bad cinema.
a blind man drive down city streets at high speeds reminded me of the
Gun movies. Those movies knew how silly they were, because they did it on
purpose. The pathetic thing about Scent of a Woman is they probably had no
idea how idiotic they were being. And can someone please explain to me why
all of the over-rated movies in this world are too long? Are you trying to
put us to sleep or make us slit our wrists? Bad film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Certainly in the top 10 of the most overrated films ever made. Colorless collegiate Chris O'Donnell gets stuck babysitting volatile,loud-mouthed blind veteran Al Pacino on a trip to NYC. This minimal storyline is unbearably expanded into a meandering, pointless 3-hour dirge of epic proportions. There is a frightfully uninteresting subplot, which provides the film's coda concerning whether O'Donnell should rat out the privileged obnoxious students responsible for vandalizing a snooty professor's car, but given that the students are worthless, the professor boorish and O'Donnell so vacant, it is hard to develop much interest. Instead, the wonder lies in watching Al Pacino (in his worst and only Oscar-winning performance) scream, sputter, gesticulate, cuss, yell "Hooha" after every other line, chew huge chunks out of the NYC scenery and basically provide an atrocious performance that contains no traces of subtlety or introspection for the entire running time. The actor responsible in giving us some of the best acting of the 70s in The Godfather films, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, etc., gets rewarded for his most execrable work? That's Hollywood for you! As the only other cast member of note, O'Donnell lowers his eyes to floor, mumbles his lines and basically allows Pacino to trod all over him. By the climax, when Pacino takes to the stage at O'Donnell's Ivy League School to defend his honor (over a ludicrous issue) and starts cussing and threatening to burn the place down with a flame-thrower, you know the film is utterly worthless because in reality security would have immediately escorted him to a padded cell somewhere. Absolute junk!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Al Pacino is undoubtedly one of the finest actors of his generation and
his performance as retired Army Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a
Woman, finally earned him his long overdue Academy Award for Best
Actor, however, in my opinion, it is far from his greatest role, though
it is certainly a memorable one.
My problem with this film is that for me it's an example of Pacino's dominating screen presence preserving a movie that would otherwise have been mediocre at best. The basic premise of the film is fairly dull. A young prep student called Charlie takes a job aiding a blind, lonely, retired colonel over thanksgiving weekend. The weekend turns out to be considerably more eventful than he anticipated, with the Colonel taking him first class to New York for one final bourbon-soaked hurrah, before intending to end his own life. When they head out to the city I expected there to be some good and perhaps amusing scenes where these two completely mismatched characters, one bitter, world weary and cynical, the other innocent, and naive, really get at one another and, to be fair, there are a couple of excellent moments. The tango scene, in which the Colonel dances with a complete stranger, in a classy New York restaurant is truly captivating, and another where he and Charlie test drive a Ferrari around some Brooklyn back-streets is also entertaining, however if a blind man were to drive and drift a Ferrari at over 70mph in real life, there would likely be some very severe consequences. These moments are few and far between however, and with a runtime of 2 ½ hours, the film does begin to drag.
Al Pacino has faced up to, and bettered, some outstanding actors in his career (think Johnny Depp in Donnie Brasco, or even De Niro in Heat), but casting him alongside Chris O'Donnell was a big mistake. It's the cinematic equivalent of feeding a lamb to a T-Rex. Pacino simply devours him in every scene; he literally walks all over him. O'Donnell's (non) performance as Charlie is just flat, bland, empty, clichéd and tepid to the point of irritation, and pretty much undermines everything good Pacino brings to the film.
Visually, Pacino does an excellent impression of a blind man, to the point where many characters in the film understandably, and believably, don't even notice. Admittedly, he isn't given the best script to work with but he still manages a couple of excellent monologues, most notably in one of the final scenes of the film, which brings me on to another failing of this picture.
The subplot, which involves Charlie facing expulsion, as a result of refusing to grass up his peers over a particularly spectacular prank involving the headmaster, just seemed trivial and insignificant, and completely undeserving of Pacino's glorious tirade about integrity, and 'facing the music' which should have really been a highlight of the film. You watch this scene, admire it, and realise there was far too little of it in the preceding 2 hours.
In conclusion, had Pacino not received the Oscar for Best Actor at some point in his career it would have been a travesty and an outrage, it's just unfortunate he received it for this role. He was so much better as Michael Corleone in The Godfather, or as ex-con anti-hero Carlito Brigante in Carlito's Way, or even as the overbearing, scenery- chewing, crack snorting gangster icon Tony Montana in Scarface. These are the roles I remember him by, and more importantly, they are vastly superior pieces of Cinema. Scent of a Woman, by comparison, is a mess. The plot is uninspired and boring, the script weak, the characters stereotypical. I've often felt that Al Pacino has an uncanny ability to make poor films average, and average films brilliant, and the former is certainly the case here. The film Two for the Money is another great example of this. A film about sports bettors with Matthew McConaughey that would have certainly been diabolical, and possibly never even released, were it not for Pacino's participation. His somehow makes it watchable... perhaps even.......interesting. Those who are new to his work (I envy you); please watch the other great films I mentioned above, before resorting to this. Disregard the Oscar. His ability to draw you into a scene and light up a film, or even just one casual line of dialogue, makes him the greatest actor of his generation, and consequently, my favourite actor of all time. It's for this reason ONLY that I give this film the 6 stars that it probably doesn't deserve.
This film is now one of my all time favourites,never before has a film
left such a big lump in my throat because of the brilliant and
beautiful script,brilliant directing and the sensational and
breathtaking acting by Pacino.This for me is pancino's greatest
performance ever and one of the best performances off all time beaten
only by Robert DE Nero's performance in the deer hunter.Off courses
lets not forget the great performance by Chris O'Donnell as school boy
Charles which unfortunately will not be remembered simply because
pacino's role is so breathtaking and worthy off his Oscar he won,which
is proved by his great speech at the end which is 6/7 minutes long and
he didn't blink once like blind people and that is a sign off class.
So all in all brilliant & moving film and acting by all.
Grade A 10/10
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