Film: Flawless (1999)


Cast includes: Robert De Niro (Analyze This), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Direction/screenplay: Joel Schumacher (Batman & Robin)
Genre: Comedy/drama/crime (1999)

In brief: If New York is a melting pot, the Palacio Hotel & Apartments is the epicenter… drug pushers, prostitutes, drag queens and one hero cop… Walter Koontz. Walt isn’t friendly with the other tenants. In fact, the “fucking faggots” who sing upstairs at Rusty’s drive him crazy. But when Amber, a hooker in the building, gets shot, Walt comes running… not that he’s able to do much about it. He suffers a serious stroke, and the next time we see Walt, he’s in the hospital, paralyzed on one side. Walt’s old life is no more… no more tango at the dance club or poker nights… no more answering the phone. He can’t even speak. Dr. Nirmala sends a physical therapist to his apartment three times a week, but it’s slow going.

When the therapist suggests that Walter take singing lessons to help with his speech, Walt reluctantly asks Rusty, the musical drag queen, for help. It’s a lot of pride to swallow. Walt and Rusty have been exchanging some pretty ugly insults up until now. And paying for singing lessons isn’t about to alter the fact that they can’t stand each other. “I’m not as stupid as you think,” Walter struggles to say. “Honey, you could never be as stupid as I think,” Randy answers. And then there are all the “girls,” those other drag queens who hang out at Rusty’s. It’s a real test of Walt’s non-existent tolerance level. The “girls” are working on their act for The Flawless Contest. Cha-Cha has a good chance of winning this year. When Walt’s lessons don’t seem to be working out, the real breakthrough comes when Rusty challenges him to say “’fucking faggot’… because you were always pretty good at that.” But it’s going to take more than a few lessons to fix Walt’s problems, and he’s not the only one with problems. Those thugs who shot Amber are still looking for the money she stole from Mr. Z.

Life can throw us some unexpected curve balls. “You got a rough break. Who didn’t?” says Rusty. Rusty knows a lot about making the best of bad situations. She/he has some wonderful words of wisdom to live by in this imperfect world. But even Rusty could use a hero now and then. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Rusty is just wonderful, played for humor but without being clichéd. Hoffman’s range is amazing and he certainly shows it with this character. More than just a social drama about learning to get along, this one has some fun and interesting plot twists, on the way to becoming a crime action movie… of sorts.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Popped kernels for the excellent, excellent, excellent acting. Wonderful script... both story development and word crafting. This one is a lot of fun.

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