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Scent of a Woman
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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A token gesture for Pacino.

Author: movie-monster from United Kingdom
22 May 2014

*** 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.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One of the greatest performances of all time!

Author: mcfcrdfc208 from United Kingdom
7 April 2008

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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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:


Author: Chris L from France
5 September 2013

Even if Al Pacino's performance is far from perfect — he sometimes overacts a bit though it is mainly due to his character —, without him, Scent of a Woman would have been a complete flop because, indeed, the script never manages to arouse a real interest, the quality scenes can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and the endless dialogues and the lack of rhythm are as crippling as the totally linear direction based on shot/reverse shot. Moreover, the movie relies a lot on melodrama which is annoying and turns out to be counter-productive in relation to the alleged sincerity the story is b, as evidenced by the very corny happy ending.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Arise...Mr. Pacino...Take a Bow

Author: werefox08 from Australia
9 March 2013

After 7 previous Oscar nominations i suppose The Academy thought it was Al Pacinos turn. (it works---a lot---like that). However, Al did deserve this one for a really great performance in this average movie. After the first 15 minutes ....the rest was VERY predictable. Without the Pacino performance...this would have sunk like a stone. Al stamps his authority over the poor schmuck who has come to "look after" him (he is a blind ex army colonel) for a weekend...and in doing so...makes this movie, a one man show. Oh ..there are tiny sub-plots and some humour here and there, but when Pacino is in frame (90% of the time) we all stand to attention. Al Pacino is one of the truly great movie actors, and i was in awe of him here. I cant remember this guy giving an average performance.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Frank Slade is a wuss

Author: deetya from Indonesia
25 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To say Frank Slade is scum would be an insult to scums everywhere ^_^ He is supposed to be this rough and tough guy, but the Thanksgiving dinner scene reveals his cowardice. It's not intended to show his cowardice, of course, the scene is supposed to show how Slade is still a man of action, a dangerous man able to kill, even when blind. But a little thinking shows just how much of a coward he is.

We find that he's been insulting his family for years now. He seems to especially reserve his venom towards Randy and his wife. Now, what kind of a man insults a woman? A coward, I would think.

Then Randy turns the table and starts giving him a rough time. Just 10 seconds, and suddenly Slade had Randy at the throat. Wow, macho man can't stand even 10 seconds of ribbing? What a wimp! Of course, it has to be said, that though blind, Slade is a military man, well trained to kill. Randy, on the other hand, is just a soft civilian. It's no contest really. Again, this shows what a pansy Slade is, using his lethal training against unarmed and unwarned civilians.

Randy's story of how Slade got blind also shows Slade's gutlessness. He talked tough, but when push came to shove, he chickened-out and basically caused his own blindness. Hail the gutless hero! What a yellow-bellied spineless wimp.

Al Pacino played him with gusto, and his performance salvaged the film. His performance is so good that viewers everywhere basically overlooked his spine jelly. That's how good Pacino's performance is. He's great! But Slade can just suck rocks and swim in the deep end.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Life is beautiful

Author: kevin shi ( from ShangHai, China
11 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are many people committed suicide in the world every year. That is definitely a very saddening phenomenon. I know everybody has one's misery. If you cannot think through it, I recommend you to watch this movie.

When I watched Al Pacino elegantly dancing with the girl, my eyes were full of tears. That is the most beautiful scene I ever watched. I have to remind you if you have not watched it, Al was blind. I was deeply touched by the scene. Every time I remind of the scene, I feel that I am so lucky to live in the world (though the present world is not so good).

As to the performance, Al is perfect. He absolutely deserved the Oscar award. You cannot imagine he brought us so many unforgettable roles. Just take a few examples here. A cold blood mafia in Godfather, a fearless cop in Heat, a righteous reporter in The insider. Frankly speaking, if I was the Oscar judge, I will award him more little gold men.

I always think that what we can get from a movie is not just entertainment. I really believe that a great movie can change your life. SOAW is just the one. 9/10

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Best movie I have seen for a long while

Author: info-209 from Pretoria, South Africa
20 July 2000

The tango scene is truly memorable. One of my favorite movie scenes of all movies. Al Pacino plays the part excellently and Gabrielle Anwar is spectacular. It is a pity that her part was so minor with regards the rest of the movie.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Standard Hollywood Sentiment

Author: bas rutten from Eindhoven, the Netherlands
6 February 2003

In spite of the good acting, especially by Mr. Pacino (has he ever delivered a poor acting job?) I can't possibly say that I found "Scent of a Woman" a good movie. The story isn't bad, and there definitely are some very good moments, but about halfway through the novelty wears off, and what's left is a predictable and somewhat sentimental Hollywood vehicle, in the vein of "A Beautiful Mind" or the "English Patient".

The largest problem is that it's all terribly overdone: the movie keeps stressing and stressing how blind and depressed Al Pacino's character is and how great he used to be, leading to some pretty ridiculous scenes of a blind man driving a car and an quite ludicruous speech in which Al basically says it's OK to lie and cover things up. It's all so exaggerated: they keep stressing why it's supposed to be touching and it just gets annoying. After a while I just waiting for the movie to end: it had made it's point but it kept going on and on and on. I was glad when it was finally over.

** out of *** stars (mainly since it's acted very well).

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Pretentious and abusive

Author: monkeyface_si ( from Staten Island, NY
7 July 2001

I adore Al Pacino. He deserved the Oscar for his performances in Serpico, Godfather II, and Dog Day Afternoon. What a shame that the movie he finally won it for is so poorly written and that his character is so one-note. He is angry because he is blind. He is abusive because he is blind. He curses because he's blind. Chris O'Donnell is cute as a button but clueless as to his motivation in the role. The supporting cast is amateurish and without direction. Overall this is one of the most pretentious films I have ever seen.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

People like it less when time flows by

Author: zhongzl-kelley2014 from China
23 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Maybe you can detect the downward sloping trend in the reviews from 1999 to 2007 here. A few years later, people will view this piece as a relic and open it only for academic purposes. That's right, this is a classic, but time can easily wash away the cheap spirit embodied in this film. Therefore I might be the last one to comment on this outdated film here. But to pay my respect for the wealth and effort that was squandered on this production, and my laborious 2 hours straining myself from smashing the screen, I'll write something anyway.

The reviews render Al Pacino's acting worthy of an Oscar, but I have to argue otherwise. Sometimes the stress of the sentence sounds strange, like he suddenly remembered the next word is the point he roared, so he jumped abruptly from a chastising to a explosion, leaving the audience perplexed and uncomfortable. Someone says he is passionate, sometimes he forget the boundary between Lt. Slade and himself. That is a highest accolade invented for actors, because only the VIP class actors can walk in and out characters' inner world with ease. And I won't deny the sense of sincerity that sometimes drifts out casually, Al Pacino should take the credit for this, but he doesn't deserve the Oscar because his talent is blocked by a braggart screenplay writer.

The movie was a product of 1992, we should respect flaws in the technique of camera angles and editing the way we respect a old man for walking slow and saying gibberish. But the huge paragraphs in the scene in which Lt. Slade contradicts the headmaster about his decision to expel Charles, I think the whole paragraph about right path wrong path can be spared, because it sounds like an old men's annoyingly didactic speech. His fury suits perfectly in the plot, but the effect will definitely be more stunning if he didn't go on and on for 1500 words. I wanted to cry in my palm, because according to a ancient movie theory, it you take out all the fantastic lines, the movie is still tasty, then it's a good movie. A Scent of Woman without all the breath-drawing lines is more barren than a dessert, which is why it deserves to be left in the dust and wither in time.

I'll recommend this movie to my uncle who is going through a mid-life crisis, but definitely not to anyone who still believe in hope, love, future and dream. If you are a shallow person that has faith in lust and pompous bragging and empty shell of wealth, this is the movie to go. I believe it's your fault if all your family hate you and seem embarrassed when you show up, Lieutenant, and I believe it's your fault if you are trying to shoot yourself knowing it will jeopardize a sweet boy that pity you and take care of you all the way. The police will doubt if Charles murder you for your wealth, and that still can't explain why you has a grasp on so huge amount of money to enjoy such luxury. A good man would give the money to the Rosie's for they live such a humble life with you sitting on hundreds of bucks and Mrs, Rosie still firmly believe that you are "sweet in the heart." Shame on you, Lieutenant.

It's not a good movie for Saturday night's fun, but it's a great movie to gnaw your fingers at because it's your weekend assignment, and scratch a few words about and get it over with. I must mourn for my precious 2 hours, for I could have watched Schindler's List with it.

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