We all have dreams. If you hold on to them long enough they either come true or turn your life into a nightmare. Being Flynn is about two writers, following their dreams of flourishing in the world of literature. One writer is a delusional old man named Jonathan Flynn, played by Robert DeNiro, and the other is a lost soul named Nick Flynn, played by Paul Dano. Through their rough encounters with each other, they struggle to find purpose through writing.
Director Paul Weitz does a fine job in presenting the raw life of the homeless, through intimate shots and muted colors. The pace of the film is just right, and the film avoids any Hollywood endings that the trailer might lead viewers to anticipate. Weitz does a well enough job in adapting Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn, a novel that many thought would translate to film horribly.
The main event at hand is Robert DeNiro. DeNiro hasn’t wholly inhabited the essence of his characters in quite some time now, but he surprisingly does so here. Jonathan Flynn is a broken man that believes in his lies, and DeNiro conveys that with every angry word and burning look. If Rupert Pupkin were a writer, this might be him today. There are moments where DeNiro scorches the screen, sometimes with a raucous rant, and in others with just a contemplative look. DeNiro is a legendary actor with nothing left to prove, but this role serves as a reminder of vintage DeNiro, calling out the viewers that might have forgotten what he’s capable of.
Paul Dano, playing Jonathan’s son Nick, turns in a solid performance. This is one of his better, more complex roles and he takes advantage of the opportunity to show his potential. Dano makes Nick’s internal battle clear, as he struggles to not be his father, driving him to do what his father never could. Additionally, although they have little to do, Olivia Thirlby and Julianne Moore turn in solid performances.
Being Flynn tells the story of a father and son relationship that never blossoms in quite the way that’s expected. It delivers something real, mostly stripped of any Hollywood intervention.
It is very difficult to emotionally invest into either of the two characters. There may be some connections made with Nick’s character, but the audience is never given the opportunity to truly connect with him. This loosens the film’s grip on the viewer, since most will end up not really caring what will happen to either character: a delusional, racist, old con- man and a lost soul with a drug habit. There are opportunities here to help us feel for the characters more, like the details of Nick’s mother’s death, but they aren’t handled well enough to have much of an impact.
There’s also the issue of Jonathan being completely unlikable to some people. DeNiro’s performance is great, but his character feels one-dimensional for the most part. Additionally, Nick’s character could have been developed much better.
The script with the dueling narrations seems like a good idea on paper, but it doesn’t really translate that will onto celluloid. By the end of the film, many may think that nothing truly significant happened with the characters.
Film Recommendations:The King of Comedy Barton Fink There Will Be Blood
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