Scent Of A Woman * * * *
Director: Martin Brest.
Screenplay: Bo Goldman.
Starring: Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell, James Rebhorn, Gabrielle Anwar, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Venture, Bradley Whitford, Rochelle Oliver, Frances Conroy.
Al Pacino is one of the most respected and talented actors in the history of filmmaking. So why did it take him over 20 years in the business before he finally got his hands on one of those golden little baldies, that go by the name of Oscar? It’s a question that will confound many but at least now, with this performance in 1992, it can, proudly, rest on his mantelpiece.
In order to make some money for a Christmas trip home, impoverished college-student Charlie (Chris O’Donnell) agrees to look after Frank (Al Pacino), a blind retired Colonel for Thanksgiving. Babysitting takes on a whole new dimension when Frank decides he wants to spent the weekend living it up in New York City.
At the time of this films release Pacino had had 4 nominations for Best Actor and 3 nominations for Best Supporting Actor. He had produced such sterling work in classic films like “The Godfather”, “Serpico”, “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Scarface”. This is only a few in a long list but, finally, no-one could argue with his bravura portrayal of a blind, hard drinking, ex-Army colonel. This isn’t the type of film you’d tip for Pacino receiving an award but it’s a performance that can’t be ignored. Yes, grandstanding does ensue, but hey! It’s Pacino, he’s allowed. There’s an unsettling intensity to his performance that’s so powerful, it’s hard to take your eyes off him. Ironically, he plays a blind man but his performance allows the audience to see. To see, what an actor can encapsulate. The film itself is a tad lighthearted and despite being overshadowed considerably, a young Chris O’Donnell handles himself well in such company. But it feels like the story itself is only a vehicle, or series of scenes, in which to allow Al to chew up. It’s enjoyable stuff nonetheless and at a running time of 2hrs 30mins, you wouldn’t know. The time flies by as it’s so much fun. A major demerit is the Hollywood perfect, rousing, finale though. The schmaltz factor goes through the roof, leaving you feeling a bit embarrassed at the audacity in even attempting it and it seriously sells the film short.
If I was to rate this based on Pacino’s performance, it would be an unquestionable 5 stars. However, the flimsy material brings the film down a notch.