Flawless (1999 film)
|Directed by||Joel Schumacher|
|Written by||Joel Schumacher|
|Produced by||Joel Schumacher|
Robert De Niro (uncredited)
|Starring||Robert De Niro|
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Wilson Jermaine Heredia
|Edited by||Mark Stevens|
|Music by||Bruce Roberts|
|Distributed by||MGM Distribution Co.|
Highly decorated NYPD officer Walter Koontz (Robert De Niro) lives in a downtown apartment complex. Despite his locale and rampant run of drag queens in his building, he tends to be private and still lives a life involved with lovely women, dancing and dining. One night, he hears gunshots upstairs, and while ascending to help suffers a stroke. He awakens with the right side of his body paralyzed resulting in poor speech and posture, and giving him a limp that requires him to use a cane.
Walter's ego massively suffers, and he becomes ashamed to be seen in public. He and one of his drag queen neighbors, Rusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman), are at odds constantly due to their differing lifestyles. Rusty desires to have sex reassignment surgery, but lacks the money to do so. When Walter comes to Rusty to use his musical talents for voice lessons to overcome his impediment, the pair, while initially argumentative and uncomfortable with each other, slowly become friends. Walter begins to gain confidence and progress towards resuming a normal life, his speech showing considerable improvement and being able to walk without a cane, even dancing. However, their friendship is marred when Rusty shows Walter a stash of money, hidden in the body of his dress making mannequin, which is enough to finance his operation. When Walter inquires how Rusty got the money, Rusty says he stole it from a drug pusher, who also committed the attack the night Walter had his stroke. Outraged by this, Walter and Rusty part ways angrily.
One night, after returning from a drag beauty contest called "Flawless", Rusty is accosted by the criminals who had crept into his apartment to find the stolen money. Walter hears the commotion and runs up to save Rusty's life. Rusty locks himself in the bedroom, and when Walter arrives, the criminals turn their attention to him, prompting Rusty to return the favor. In the fight, the criminals shoot Walter, but he and Rusty are able to subdue them. While boarding an ambulance with Walter, Rusty gives the paramedics the stolen cash to ensure Walter gets the best treatment possible. The pair again rekindle their friendship, setting their personal differences aside.
- Robert De Niro as Walter Koontz
- Philip Seymour Hoffman as Rusty
- Skipp Sudduth as Tommy
- Barry Miller as Leonard Wilcox
- Chris Bauer as Jacko
- Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Cha-Cha
- Nashom Wooden as Amazing Grace credited as Nashom Benjamin
- Daphne Rubin-Vega as Tia
- Rory Cochrane as Pogo
- Scott Allen Cooper as Ivana
- Jude Ciccolella as Detective Noonan
- Mina Bern as Mrs. Spivak
- Penny Balfour as Cristal
- Victor Rasuk (uncredited) as Neighborhood boy
- Richie Lamontagne as Carmine the Pizza Boy
- Luis Saguar as Mr. Z
- Mitchell Lichtenstein as Gay Republican Spokesperson
- John Enos as Sonny, Rusty's abusive boyfriend
- "Planet Love" – Taylor Dayne (Allee Willis; Bruce Roberts)
- "Half-Breed" – Cher (Al Capps; Mary Dean)
- "Lady Marmalade" (Live) – Patti LaBelle (Bob Crewe; Kenny Nolan)
- "When the Money's Gone" – Bruce Roberts (Bruce Roberts; Donna Weiss)
- "G.A.Y." – Geri Halliwell (Geri Halliwell; Watkins; Wilson)
- "When Will You Learn" – Boy George (G. O'Dowd; John Themis; Mike Koglin)
- "La Chica Marita" – Marcus Schenkenberg (J. Beauvoir; T. Catania)
- "Turn Me Over" – Wonderbox (Monica Murphy)
- "Lady Marmalade" – All Saints (Bob Crewe; Kenny Nolan)
- "Sidewalk Talk" – John "Jellybean" Benitez (Madonna)
- "Can't Stop Love" – Soul Solution (Bobby Guy; Ernie Lake)
- "Give It to Me" – Drama Kidz (Danny Sullivan; E. Holterhoff; Jellybean)
- "The Name Game" – Shirley Ellis (Lincoln Chase; Shirley Ellis)
- "Whenever You Fall" – Taylor Dayne (Taylor Dayne; B.G. Craziose; Ernie Lake; Janice Robinson)
- "The Neighborhood" – Bruce Roberts; Gohl; Sarah McLachlan (Bruce Roberts)
- "Tia's Tango" – Bruce Roberts; Gohl; Sarah McLachlan (Bruce Roberts)
- "Luciano" – Bruce Roberts; Gohl; Sarah McLachlan (Bruce Roberts)
Hoffman considered De Niro to be the most imposing actor that he had ever worked with, noting how De Niro had the ability during the shooting to "listen" to him as an actor, and in turn, make Hoffman respond similarly because of his unique style of acting. Hoffman felt that his exposure to that level of acting profoundly improved his own abilities as an actor.
Review-aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes reports a 41% approval rating based on 56 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10, and a consensus reading: "Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman's Flawless performances live up to this dramedy's title; unfortunately, they're outweighed by the misguided picture surrounding them." Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "C" on scale of A+ to F.
Hoffman was praised by critics for his ability to avoid clichés in playing such a delicate role. Emily VanDerWerff, a transgender film critic, praised the warmth of his portrayal of Rusty, commenting that "Hoffman’s work is quiet, moving, and humanistic, and it provides the film with a core Schumacher doesn’t remotely earn. No matter; this is another movie worth seeing almost entirely for the titanic work Hoffman does near its center." Roger Ebert highlighted Hoffman as "one of the best new character actors", remarking that he was "able to take a flamboyant role and find the quiet details in it".
- Simon, Jeff (24 September 2000). "Role Player ; Rochester's Philip Seymour Hoffman on Hollywood, good films and the 'star' factor". The Buffalo News, accessed via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on 11 June 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
- "Flawless". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
- "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
- "In Flawless, Philip Seymour Hoffman gave warmth to a transgender stereotype". A.V. Club. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- "Flawless". Rogerebert.com. November 29, 1999. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- "The 6th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild. Retrieved February 21, 2014.