Flawless (1999 film)

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Flawless movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoel Schumacher
Written byJoel Schumacher
Produced byJoel Schumacher
Jane Rosenthal
Robert De Niro (uncredited)
Neil Machlis
StarringRobert De Niro
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Barry Miller
Chris Bauer
Wilson Jermaine Heredia
Daphne Rubin-Vega
CinematographyDeclan Quinn
Edited byMark Stevens
Music byBruce Roberts
Distributed byMGM Distribution Co.
Release date
  • November 26, 1999 (1999-11-26)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million
Box office$4,488,529

Flawless is a 1999 American crime comedy-drama film written and directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman.


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.



  1. "Planet Love" – Taylor Dayne (Allee Willis; Bruce Roberts)
  2. "Half-Breed" – Cher (Al Capps; Mary Dean)
  3. "Lady Marmalade" (Live) – Patti LaBelle (Bob Crewe; Kenny Nolan)
  4. "When the Money's Gone" – Bruce Roberts (Bruce Roberts; Donna Weiss)
  5. "G.A.Y." – Geri Halliwell (Geri Halliwell; Watkins; Wilson)
  6. "When Will You Learn" – Boy George (G. O'Dowd; John Themis; Mike Koglin)
  7. "La Chica Marita" – Marcus Schenkenberg (J. Beauvoir; T. Catania)
  8. "Turn Me Over" – Wonderbox (Monica Murphy)
  9. "Lady Marmalade" – All Saints (Bob Crewe; Kenny Nolan)
  10. "Sidewalk Talk" – John "Jellybean" Benitez (Madonna)
  11. "Can't Stop Love" – Soul Solution (Bobby Guy; Ernie Lake)
  12. "Give It to Me" – Drama Kidz (Danny Sullivan; E. Holterhoff; Jellybean)
  13. "The Name Game" – Shirley Ellis (Lincoln Chase; Shirley Ellis)
  14. "Whenever You Fall" – Taylor Dayne (Taylor Dayne; B.G. Craziose; Ernie Lake; Janice Robinson)
  15. "The Neighborhood" – Bruce Roberts; Gohl; Sarah McLachlan (Bruce Roberts)
  16. "Tia's Tango" – Bruce Roberts; Gohl; Sarah McLachlan (Bruce Roberts)
  17. "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.[1]


Review-aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes reports a 41% approval rating based on 56 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10,[2] 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.[3]

Hoffman was praised by critics for his ability to avoid clichés in playing such a delicate role.[4] 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."[4] 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".[5]

Hoffman received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Lead Actor.[6]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "Flawless". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  3. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  4. ^ a b "In Flawless, Philip Seymour Hoffman gave warmth to a transgender stereotype". A.V. Club. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  5. ^ "Flawless". Rogerebert.com. November 29, 1999. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  6. ^ "The 6th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild. Retrieved February 21, 2014.

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