Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Miller, Chris Bauer, Skipp Sudduth
Director: Joel Schumacher
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
"One of the year's hottest surprises" (Rex Reed), this "feel-good drama" (San Francisco Chronicle) from writer-director Joel Schumacher (A Time to Kill) combines the acting talents of two-time Oscar(r) winner* Robert De Ni... more »
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Offbeat movie with a point
flickjunkie | 05/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"`Flawless' is an offbeat story about Walter Koontz (Robert De Niro) an ex-cop who suffers a stroke and loses partial ability to speak. In an effort to regain some of his speech capabilities it is recommended to him that he take singing lessons. So he decides to ask his neighbor Rusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who is a female impersonator, to give him singing lessons. This is an unlikely pairing because Walter is a belligerent homophobe.This film was written and directed by Joel Schumacher. His story, though peculiar, makes some powerful points. This is a story about hatred, bigotry and reconciliation. Walter learns through his disability who his friends really are, and who they are not. It seems that the people he hates treat him a lot better than the people he thought he loved. Ultimately, he is able to look past his prejudices to find the human elements that make him and Rusty not so different after all.This was an excellent character study of both main characters, giving a lot of insight into the motivations and lives of each. Unfortunately, the story meanders too often to irrelevant characters and scenes that don't really contribute much (like the Gay Republicans). Schumacher would have been better to concentrate on the relationship between Walter and Rusty rather than digressing so frequently into Rusty's relationships with his friends.De Niro was outstanding in this film. Not only was he excellent in the emotional portrayal of a man having to deal with a sudden debilitating stroke, but he was very realistic in his portrayal of the physical disability itself. The combination of his struggles to do the simplest of tasks and the obvious look of anguish and frustration on his face was poignant and affecting.Hoffman brought a lot of emotional energy to his part, and his imitation of a drag queen was passable, though somewhat forced and unnatural. Wilson Jermaine Heredia, who played Cha-Cha, the winner of the Flawless contest, was a much more convincing queen.I rated this film a 7/10. This is a good film that helps us understand that the remedy for the fear wrought of our differences is understanding, not hatred. In that respect it makes an important contribution. If cross dressing and blatantly gay themes put you off, perhaps you should defy your inclinations and see it."
Enjoyable, but certainly not "flawless"
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 02/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I rented this video by mistake -- literally. I had chosen another film but when I got home the wrong film was inside the box. I had never heard of this 1999 movie but it was starring Robert DeNiro and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who I just seen play a wonderful character role as the writer in State and Main, and so I decided to watch it.The theme is interesting. Robert DeNiro plays an aging former security guard who lives in a run-down apartment house peopled by some weird and interesting characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman is cast as the drag queen across the courtyard who taunts the homophobic DeNiro who amuses himself by paying for women he meets at a sleazy dance hall.Then DeNiro has a stroke. When he is released from the hospital his helplessness makes him contemplate suicide. His physical therapist recommends singing lessons to help his slurred speech. "At least you'll be able to have phone sex" says the therapist. As Philip Seymour Hoffman is a singing teacher, these two fine actors are thrown together for some excellent scenes. Usually drag queen characters play comic roles but his is a very serious part, as is DeNiro's. I understand also that DeNiro visited rehabilitation centers and worked with a physical therapist in order to get the speech and physical problems of a stroke victim correct. This authenticity comes through in his outstanding acting. There's much to say in this film about courage and compassion. The chemistry between the two actors make it all very real.It's too bad that the rest of the film is of the Grade B variety. There's some silly plot about a drug deal and hidden cash and some bad guy gangster scenes that are overacted and feel like the amateur hour. There's too many stereotype characters who live in the apartment house. There are too many subplots. The problem with this film is that it can't decide if its a comedy or a drama. It's strongest in its dramatic moments but then seems to fade off and become just too busy and distracting. DeNiro's and Hoffman's performances are so good, however, that it's worth watching just for that. There's much food for thought here and good issues raised about physically challenged people.So for those of you who don't' necessarily demand perfection in every video you see, I give this film a modest recommendation. I know that I enjoyed it in spite of the fact that it was not "flawless"."
Oh. My. God. Over the top terrific.
Peggy Vincent | Oakland, CA | 03/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How on earth did this movie get made? It's so offbeat, such improbable fodder for the movie mill of Hollywood, so, so, so.... So over the top in every way. Two very special and talented actors hold down the story. DeNiro plays a homophobic cop who is trying to recover from a debilitating stroke; he starts by taking singing lessons from his neighbor, played by the incomparable Philip Seymour Hoffman, a pathetic drag queen who is trying to save up enough money for a sex change operation.
Well. You can imagine the looks DeNiro gives him, the comments, the eye-rolls, as Hoffman vamps or slumps around in a kimono or wig or feathered scarf. Really, really good stuff. You suspect DeNiro will emerge from this encounter as a more tolerant man, and you would be correct - but that's not the end of the tale.
There's another whole plot line about drug deals and stolen money that comes up against the gay community and the drag queens, prostitutes of all three sexes, the cops (both honest and dis) - and when the goons come to call, you fear that these people you've come to care about will come to a sad fate.
I won't say more. Just don't miss it."
A Study In Humanity
Reviewer | 06/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A retired, conservative New York City policeman and a drag queen manage to overcome some significant barriers between them, to form an alliance for their mutual benefit in "Flawless," written and directed by Joel Schumacher. In his apartment building, Walter Koontz (Robert De Niro) suffers a stroke while coming to the aid of some neighbors who are trying to elude a gunman; two people are killed in what turns out to be a matter concerning some money stolen from a local drug dealer. Walter ends up with his right side paralyzed, barely able to walk, and his speech impaired; which is one of the major obstacles he must learn to overcome. He is encouraged to try singing lessons in an effort to learn how to speak again. To that end, he enlists the help of a neighbor, with whom he had heretofore been at odds, a drag queen named Rusty Zimmerman (Philip Seymour Hoffman). "Busty Rusty," as he is billed at the club where he works, is saving for a sex-change operation, and can use the extra money, so he accepts the job. This leads to an unlikely bond between Walter, a man who values his independence, and Rusty, a tortured soul who wouldn't wish his life upon anyone. Rusty can identify with the sense of isolation Walter is feeling from being unable to do for himself any longer; he understands his self-pity, and helps him try to get past it: "I've been to that pity-party myself," Rusty tells him. Meanwhile, the tension throughout the building remains high; the drug dealer is convinced that his money is being kept by one of the residents, and the constant presence of his hired goons becomes a menace to everyone who lives there. Ultimately Walter and Rusty become involved in it, which leads to a climax that pointedly illustrates the magnanimity of the human spirit. De Niro, as expected, turns in a sterling performance here; he is so physically convincing, shading Walter's disability with such finesse, that you forget that this is an actor playing a role. There is no De Niro on the screen; this is, in fact, a man named Walter Koontz. Hoffman, as well, turns in a brilliant performance, imbuing Rusty with every nuance; he aptly conveys his subtle anxieties and the rancor that surrounds him, and with which he must live, every day of his life. Skipp Sudduth does a good job, also, as Walter's friend, Tommy, who must work through his own confusion in dealing with Walter's situation, and the people with which he now finds him involved; before the stroke, drag queens were definitely not a part of their immediate circle of friends. The supporting cast includes Barry Miller (Leonard), Christopher Bauer (Jacko), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Tia) and Karina Arrovave (Amber). Schumacher has deftly crafted a character study that examines diversity and proffers the rewards of a symbiotic existence. The message is that no one is flawless; we're imperfect creatures living together in an imperfect world, and if we can only get beyond ourselves and our prejudices, we just may find that gold at the end of the rainbow. "Flawless" is not without it's own flaws, either; some of the scenes involving the other drag queens and some of the criminal elements are somewhat overplayed at times, but that's a minor complaint. This film is deeply felt without being sentimental, and sheds some light on the human condition. It holds up a mirror to all of us, and asks the flawless among us to step forward."