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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 Therefore I might be the last one to comment on this outdated film here.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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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Oscar bait that was caught

Author: Steve Pulaski from United States
25 March 2014

The fact that Martin Brest's Scent of a Woman awarded Al Pacino his first and only Oscar to date is a fact that satisfies and infuriates simultaneously. It's nice to see an immensely talented actor finally get his due from Hollywood, however, it's upsetting to see it's for a film that largely pales in comparison to Pacino's other pictures such as The Godfather trilogy and Scarface and a performance that doesn't hold a candle to the ones he gave in the aforementioned films.

It's bizarre out of the library of terrific Pacino performances we've been so grateful to see over the years, the Academy recognizes one that is good at the same time all over the place and inconsistent, even though it's one of the best inconsistent performances I have yet to see. The film centers around Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell), a student at a prestigious New England prep school who is assigned to look after a retired Army Ranger Lieutenant Colonel named Frank Slade (Al Pacino). Frank is a blind man, often loud, frequently outspoken, loves his drinks, and feels completely entitled to speak his mind whenever he feels like it. It is only a screen writing obligation that these two will embark on some life-altering adventures and find ways to open up to each other in ways they never foresaw.

Scent of a Woman's writer Bo Goldman pulls no punches whatsoever, for this is a straight-forward drama about companionship and loss with little to no presence of deeper meaning or multilayered storytelling. Not every film needs to be heavy on symbology or even multilayered, but when a story is a sometimes merciless one-hundred and fifty-three minutes, one hopes that at some point a line is drawn and deeper, rawer human emotions surface or some other facet pops up to reveal another layer.

But sadly there isn't one, and because of that, Scent of a Woman flounders because of how basic it is. We see young Charlie leave a lasting impact on Frank and Frank leave an impact on Charlie, which as cute as it is sometimes, can also be dreadfully boring, especially for such a lengthy amount of time. This is one-hundred and five minutes of material stretched out forty-eight minutes longer and occasionally finds itself going in circles over material and events it has just covered.

When it comes down to the chemistry between Pacino and O'Donnell, it's uniformly solid. Both actors have a believable sense of friendship in the film, especially during scenes like the one at the dinner table, the one when Charlie allows Frank to drive a Ferrari down an unpopulated alleyway, or when Frank sticks up for Charlie in the end of the film. Both men are believable as friends and work well as an on-screen duo.

With that being said, Pacino's performance still finds itself registering all over the place and having issues setting up a clear tone throughout the film. Frank will be calm and collective on some occasions mirroring the likes of mentally unstable on other occasions. Some scenes, Frank will be shouting at the top of his lungs, others, he'll be barely cracking a whisper. This is the performance that won Pacino the Oscar, mind you - not the subtleties he presented as Michael Corleone, not the brash assertiveness he exerted as Tony Montana, but the up-and-down tendencies he brought to the table in Scent of a Woman. While this is by no means a bad performance (and definitely shows its effectiveness by the end, with Frank in the courtroom scene), it still isn't the kind of performance one would see Pacino winning, especially with his already exceptional résumé.

Furthermore, it's worth noting that the presence of Thomas Newman's turgid score that needs to emphasize every emotional instance in the film gets to be insufferable to say the least. Newman's score chimes in and plays precisely the kind of tune you expect to hear during scenes of conflict, happiness, joy, and sorrow with absolutely no subtly whatsoever. Then there's the courtroom scene that concludes the film, which feels extracted from a completely separate film.

When you have a film that already overextends itself in its groggy runtime, presents a performance that is, for the lack of a better term, all over the place, and a score that leaves no ambiguity, Scent of a Woman almost seems down and out accept for the fact that it does present a well-orchestrated human interest story and how companionship is one of the fundamentals to a good life. Regardless of how long, occasionally tiresome, and overblown the film can be, it still possesses a delightful focus on character over plot, which I always admire.

The film comes from Martin Brest, an underrated director known for his action comedies such as the exciting Beverly Hills Cop, the hilarious and too-often enthralling Midnight Run, and the unfairly bashed Gigli, which ostensibly crippled his career (Brest hasn't directed since its release in 2003). Brest's usual investment with character relationships is present but absent this time around are his action set pieces, which provide a nice addition of variety in Brest's short but sweet filmography.

Scent of a Woman reminds me quite a bit of Dead Poets Society for more reasons than it deals with a prep school. Both films have a cloying obviousness to their writing and directing, making their themes completely heavy, and staging their emotional sequences as if they were the most powerful to ever exist. The film works best when it is underplaying its central ideas, focusing on more abstract scenes like the key scene here, which involves Frank on a plane fondly recalling the beautiful qualities of a woman, detailing the scent of her hair, the feel of her lips, the texture of her breasts, etc. It's a beautiful scene - Scent of a Woman needed more of those.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Al Pacino is splendid

Author: Ru Sil
10 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Few characters in cinema history are so well defined, so memorable and fascinating as Col. Frank Slade, miraculously played by Al Pacino. Slade broke my heart, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I hate "three-hankys" and overly sentimental "chick flicks", so I kept avoiding "Scent of a Woman". When I've finally watched it recently, it didn't strike me as a "chick flick" though. Pacino's performance really moved me. He never lets the story slip into cheap sentimentalism, because his character is heart-wrenchingly real.

C. O'Donnel is bland and uninteresting, but that's the way it was meant for his character to be. He's only a catalyst for Slade, a blank book waiting to be written. After all, he's just a 17 year-old.

I love it when Hollywood is sending out a positive, moral message, even if the delivery is flawed. The ending of "Scent of a Woman" kinda spoils the story's realism, but nothing can diminish Pacino's brilliant performance.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Scent of a Woman (1992) - Whoo-Ah! Whoo-Ah!

Author: nickmesafilms ( from United States
8 May 2012

Adapted from the Italian film version from Giovanni Arpino, "Scent of a Woman" tells the story of Chris O'Donnell as a preparatory student, who takes a weekend job, taking care of a blind, medically retired Army officer, portrayed brilliantly by Al Pacino, scoring his first ever Oscar win for Best Actor. Director Martin Brest and screenwriter Bo Goldman has perfectly made a visionary portrait of life, hope, friendship, and honesty. When I first started watching, I immediately realized that this movie was better than I thought it would be. I was drawn into the clever well-written dialogue from Bo Goldman, and the stand-out performances from the entire cast. But the shining cast member is Al Pacino, delivering one of the greatest performances of his career, that rightfully deserves his Best Actor Oscar. Although sadly, this is the only award he has won in his entire career, his award win will finally make others realize how excellent an actor Pacino is. But besides Pacino and O'Donnell, James Rebhorn, Gabrielle Anwar, and a young Philip Seymour Hoffman, round up the supporting cast with some clever, if necessary, performances. Delivered with some powerful sequences, provided with some beautiful directing, wonderful writing, and insanely wonderful music, "Scent of a Woman" is one of the many masterpieces of Al Pacino's career. Although the 157-minute run time seemed to drag a bit, with some scenes that needed to be in the movie or not, that were just sort of stuck, that didn't ruin the movie's true potential, luckily. Since 1992 was considered the year of the woman, "Scent of a Woman" might not have been a movie that was all about women, but it does share a wonderful and beautifully made tale, through the case of an insanely enjoyable motion picture. "Scent of a Woman", in my review, "immensing and groundbreaking, Pacino is brilliant".

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The scent of a lifetime (dvd)

Author: leplatypus from PariS
13 November 2011

First of all, let's settle the Oscar issue: For Al, the wait is long undue and as a matter of principle, I don't support awards for any movie starring disability, especially if it's biography. About Al's blindness, I will just say that sometimes, he overplays his hands but from start to finish, he's exceptional with his eyes: he really seems to see nothing.

Beyond, this movie combines two themes that are special to me: boarding school and NYC. It's not often that you can have a movie that excels in those categories simultaneously: It's as much about a student's life as a trip in uptown NYC.

As a lot of Al's late movie, he embodies a fatherly figure for a young disoriented. But, here, the cards are a bit different: Al can be as supportive as he is stern and very difficult. If he speaks not very clearly, you can guess that he has a great life behind and you understand that Al is in a fight against time that he can't win.

In front of him, O'Donnell is perfect as the All-American boy. Thus, it's the delicate meeting of courage and integrity and it's really moving to see the two characters taking each other's influence.

When I was summoned by superiors to take a blame for helping my colleague., I wish I could have delivered Al's speech but at last, i have O'Donnell honor!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Probably one of the finest movies of all time...Al Pacino is the life of the movie...

Author: prateak gauchan from Nepal
1 June 2011

Adapted by Bo Goldman from the novel Il buio e il miele (Italian: Darkness and Honey) by Giovanni Arpino and from the 1974 screenplay for the movie Profumo di donna by Ruggero Maccari and Dino Risi, Martin Brest's 'Scent Of A Woman' is evergreen classic from the early 90′s. Movies often have lines that become part of our culture. The line from this one is hoo-ha!

This film may look plain but it isn't: it's a very strong one, showing us how someone who lost all faith in life (Frank – Al Pacino) can learn from someone whose life may end by doing something right (Charlie – Chris O'Donnell): not selling himself for his future. At the same time, Charlie will learn that sometimes you shouldn't trust everything people tell you: usually it is easier to speak the right thing than actually DO the right thing. It is a beautiful film, to be watched peacefully: believe me, if in the beginning you will wonder how it is possible that someone like Colonel Frank Slade, by the end you will like him more that you thought possible.

SCENT OF A WOMAN (1992) is an outstanding piece of work! The legendary Al Pacino FINALLY took home the coveted Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant work in this film and he shouldn't have to apologize for it. Yes, he should have won for his work in THE GODFATHER and SCARFACE, but too many actors to be named have been sadly overlooked for their best work.

Pacino perfectly essays the role of retired Colonel Frank Slade, who was compelled to retirement being blinded during duty(due to his own stupidity and drinking habit). Stuck living with his niece and her family in their guest house and drawing monthly stipends from the government, Col. Slade is an embittered man of late middle age. Slade's niece has hired local boys' school student Charlie Simms (young Chris O'Donnell in a very underrated, genuine performance) to take care of Frank for the weekend during the Thanksgiving holidays. Slade opts to take Charlie with him on a weekend of luxury and reckless abandon in New York. Meanwhile, Charlie must wrestle with the moral dilemma of "should he or shouldn't he" squeal on his fellow classmates, who he along with another student saw commit a punishable act prior to the holidays. Charlie is to go before the disciplinary board upon his return. Charlie and Frank are two extraordinary actors in the film, "Scent of a Woman." They are a perfect pair, one who has always stood firmly for what he believes in and the other one who is learning how to do just that.

Still of Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar in Scent Of A Woman

Al Pacino is extraordinary, he steals every scene he is in, truly crafting a superb and incredible performance. One of his greatest performances ever and in the history of cinema. Chris O'Donnell is marvelous, a great performance. It's absolutely unforgettable and flawless. The supporting cast is golden, too .Gabrielle Anwar (charming as the beautiful young lady that Slade gets to tango with!), the always reliable James Rebhorn (pitch perfect as the stern headmaster of the boys' school), a young-looking Phillip Seymour Hoffman (terrific as Charlie's shifty "best friend" at the boy's school, who was his fellow witness), Richard Venture (as Frank's older brother W.R. Slade), a young Bradley Whitford (wonderful as Frank's resentful nephew Randy in my favorite scene of the film!), Ron Eldard (winning as the NY cop who stops Slade and Charlie for speeding), and a young and vibrant Frances Conroy (as an English teacher at Charlie's school who I always imagine that Frank ends up with!).

There are great scenes in "Scent of a Woman" from the ruckus at Thanksgiving dinner when Frank takes Charlie, both uninvited, to his brother's house where the relatives don't think much of him to at one point driving a Ferrari despite being blind. But the most wonderful moments are the few on the dance floor. The scene of Frank(Al) and Donna(Gabrielle) doesn't get out of my thoughts. From the moment he catches her perfume, through the introduction, till the sweetest tango dance ever. Of course, the choice for Donna – Gabrielle Anwar, is perfect, she plays the shy (very) pretty woman very good. The scene when the colonel wants to shoot himself and suddenly decides to shoot the boy,too is brilliant. The fight between the two men -as well as Charlie's attempt to convince the colonel give up his plan- is full of suspense and very well structured, so it's impossible to anticipate how the things will work out. The climax scene in the disciplinary meeting, though a bit clichéd, is wonderful. Pacino's speech is absolutely amazing. He delivers it with a panache.

The big lesson from SCENT OF A WOMAN is about the true meaning of honor. I like the dichotomy of Slade's situation with Charlie's and how Charlie, the student, inadvertently teaches Slade a valuable life lesson, that through the toughest of times and situations, it is the human SPIRIT that must remain intact if one is to truly LIVE!

Riveting, electrifying and satisfying. A magnificent film. A heartfelt, funny and outstanding experience. Powerful and very touching throughout. An excellent movie in every way. Superb storytelling and stunningly crafted. A towering and masterful drama. Wickedly funny and spectacular. A film you cant turn away from. You cant stop but smile when you think of this movie. A two and a half hour pleasure from start to finish.

Nominated for Best Picture, directed by Oscar nominated director Martin Brest (MIDNIGHT RUN, BEVERLY HILLS COP) and starring the one and only Al Pacino in his Oscar-winning role, SCENT OF A WOMAN is a film to enjoy over and over! I refer it to everyone, everyone who want to watch a beautiful movie with great performances. I rate it 9 out of 10.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Hoo-Haa... Pacino rules!

Author: nama chakravorty from India
30 March 2010

Adapted by Bo Goldman from the novel Il buio e il miele (Italian: Darkness and Honey) by Giovanni Arpino and from the 1974 screenplay for the movie Profumo di donna by Ruggero Maccari and Dino Risi, Martin Brest's 'Scent Of A Woman' is evergreen classic from the early 90's. Ho-Haa all the way man!

'Scent Of A Woman' tells the story of a young kid and his weekend boss, a blind retired Colonel. The film works big time, mainly because it has it's heart the right place. With a running time of over 156 minutes, here's a film that holds your attention from start to end.

Pacino is a legend and rightly so. He's incredible, 'Scent Of A Woman' works because he really lets you down. He won the Academy-Award for Best Actor, and Ho-Haa he deserved it! Chris O'Donnell also pitches in a very mature performance, this is his best work as an actor. Philip Seymour Hoffman is efficient, as always.

On the whole, 'Scent Of A Woman' is a winner all the way, a marvelous film. Two Big Thumbs Up! Ho-Haa!!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very Good With A Unique Character

Author: Kyle Hodgdon from United States
18 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really did not know what to think coming into this film. The title, "Scent of a Woman", certainly does not really give the viewer much idea of what this film is all about.

The audience immediately feels for Charlie who honestly does the best he can to do what is right, but luck does not usually shine in his direction. So he meets up with Frank who certainly does not give him any leniency from the get-go. After a while, Frank becomes a father figure to Charlie and the two learn from, and help each other out.

The plot does not sound extremely original, that is until you factor in the fact that Frank is blind and ready to give up on life. Al Pacino really makes this film with his over-the-top portrayal of the colonel. He is a very interesting character and it is neat to see him interact with different people.

One little problem I had with the movie was the courtroom scene. I know in some private schools they have these mock courtroom situations to deal with disciplinary actions, but this one seemed a bit too far fetched.

This is a great movie to work and has the unique variable of someone who cannot see to make it stand out more than others.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Poignant, sensitive, emotional, heart raking

Author: Dr Jacques COULARDEAU from Olliergues, France
30 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This one is a masterpiece. First of all because Al Pacino cuts a character he is in no way close to being in real life. He plays a retired lieutenant-colonel which is nothing, but a blind one. His blindness is the symbol, and result, of both a heroic career and a sad end because he was passed over for general. This mixture of so many emotions and feelings and frustrations is marvelously conveyed by the actor. His tone, his behavior, his general stand, his unpredictable reactions, his decision to leave this world and his second decision to stay can be read in the way he speaks, the words he uses, the expressions his blind face carries, his attitudes toward other people, etc. He is a millionaire in emotions. But it is a masterpiece for so many other reasons that I am only going to quote a few. First it is a journey, the journey of a prep school teenager, a student on a scholarship mind you, from Oregon to Cambridge, Massachusetts, then to New York, a round trip with the colonel he is taking care of for the Thanksgiving long week end. This journey, and particularly the lap to New York and the subsequent events, are an initiation. The young chap is to learn what principles are in life and that you have to stand by them, especially if you are poor and fragile in body and social status: then be strong in soul and mind and spirit. Your ethics are your only asset and power in life. He also has to learn how to understand his colonel companion and feel when he has decided to send him buy cigars while he is putting an end to his life and the gun loaded with his bullets are an impressive key to the solitary tower of growing up with death in front of you. He saves that man with a crazy idea of a ride, for a blind man, to drive a Ferrari in the Bronx or somewhere under the Brooklyn Bridge, and with all the frills of such a ride including the cop who catches him speeding but does not realize he is talking to a blind man. But this film is also a film about the elite education these Ivy League prep schools provide the young men of today with to prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow. There I will not hint too much at that side of the story. Let's say an act of vandalism which is a student prank and nothing more, leads the headmaster into menacing the two student witnesses (our poor one and a rich kid) with the worst punishment going as far as trying to buy the cooperation of the poor student. The final disciplinary hearing is absurd in its logic. The three culprits go through because there is no clear cut witness, the rich one, with his father, pretends he did not have his contacts on but gives the three names with a maybe, and the poor one, Charlie by the way, refuses point blank to be a fink, a stool pigeon. And there the intervention of his would-be-and-could-have-been-suicidee colonel saves the day. That you will have to find out by yourself. In many ways it is a lot stronger than the Dead Poets Society and the drama is avoided. It is better because it is the vision of a poor scholarship student and not the vision of one rich kid, in recent society and not in the 1920s or so. The point of view makes it a lot more powerful about society and courage, even if less dramatic as for the relations between the rich kid and his father. The loser all along is the headmaster who did not know how to recognize a prank and over-estimated it into an act of vandalism. Yes that kind of repressive attitude produces soul cripples and there is no prosthesis for that type of amputation.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID

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