Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scent of a Woman. B

Al Pacino has been known throughout his career for his operatic performances, so it comes as no surprise that he chose to play Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman. Slade is a character we've seen before, gruff, grizzled, austere, but, as his daughter points out, with a bark worse than his bite. What makes the movie unique is that he's blind (it sounds lame, but it works), so when he takes a random excursion to New York, he needs an assistant to direct the way. And that aid turns out to be Charlie Simms, a smart, prudent slightly self-deprecating seventeen year old who takes on the job so he can afford a plane ride home at Christmas. The strange thing about the movie is that Charlie is already extremely mature and seems older than his age. You'd expect this experience would make him discover some vital truth about himself, but really he remains the same person until the end. The focus is more on Slade, whose complicated personality is revealed as his friendship with Charlie grows. Scent of a Woman is directed by Martin Brest as a pretty mainstream Hollywood entertainment. It's a predictable story with an ending that would never exist in smaller, more independent project. But it's still entertaining, and marked especially as the movie that won Pacino his only Oscar. Has he given a better performance before? Certainly. But he still excels as Slade, and makes his dramatic persona work because he's Al Pacino, and that' s what Al Pacino does best.

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