FILM REVIEW - Scent Of A Woman
Since my brother came back for his summer holidays he’s been going on about how I don’t watch enough ‘good’ movies and that as a critic of films I probably need to branch out. Part of this branching out involves watching some of the films on the IMDB Top 250 list, haha. Very edgy. Nevertheless, since I had a free evening, we all sat down to watch ’Scent of a Woman’. The only thing I was told about the film was that it had Al Pacino in it and that it wasn’t violent, so no need for me to get squeamish.
‘Scent of a Woman’ tells the story of Charlie Simms, a young student at a prestigious prep school. Whilst his class fellows are all getting ready to holiday up in luxurious resorts, Charlie is looking to get himself a part-time job to make some money. On the day before the term is up, he sees a group of his classmates pulling a prank on the principal. This backfires badly when the principal calls him into his office to find out what Charlie saw, threatening him with expulsion. He leaves for the holidays with a big decision to make. The part-time job he applies for sees him acting as an aide to a retired Lieutenant Colonel named Frank Slade. To make things more difficult, Slade is blind and highly loud and aggressive. Doubtful but in need of the money, Charlie takes the job thinking that it would be a fairly easy one. However, once Slade’s watchful family leave, Charlie finds that the old man has planned a trip to New York and intends to take Charlie with him. Despite his protests, he decides that going with Frank would be the right thing to do. On the flight, Frank talks to Charlie about his love of women and how the perfume that they wear can tell so much about them. When they get to New York, Frank books a room at the infamous Waldorf-Astoria and takes Charlie out for an expensive meal. Charlie unsure of what this entire venture is about asks Frank, to which Frank replies that he intends to eat an expensive meal, see his older brother, make love to a beautiful woman, and then kill himself. Charlie is taken aback but thinks that Frank is initially joking. However, after accompanying him to visit his family and then waiting outside a hotel where Frank sleeps with an escort, Charlie is torn about what to do. He attempts to distract Frank by taking him to drive a Ferrari, which is another thing that Frank always wanted to do. Can the young man prevent Slade from taking his life? And what will happen to Charlie at school when this holiday is all over?
I’ve seen Al Pacino in very few films, one of them being ‘The Godfather’. I knew that he had a reputation for being in movies that were often quite serious and violent, so I was a little hesitant when my brother suggested this film. That being said, I absolutely loved his performance. Not only was it a phenomenal acting performance, but also it was funny and energetic. There were also moments where he was aggressive and you could see a real fire in his acting. They say he is one of the all-time greats. After watching this film, I can see that I definitely need to watch more of his film because he has real skill. Opposite him playing Charlie Simms was Chris O’Donnell, who most people probably aren’t aware of. For me though, he was a familiar face given the number of times I watched his performance as Robin in ‘Batman and Robin’. Chris, I don’t know what you did after that film, but I hope you made more films like this. The remaining cast played supporting roles and I didn’t particularly recognize many of them. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman was playing one of Charlie’s classmates though.
Often, when you don’t expect anything from a film, you find yourself surprised. Sometimes that can be a good surprise, and sometimes it’s not. In the case of ‘Scent of a Woman’, it was most definitely the former. I really enjoyed watching the film. I thought it dealt with some pretty serious issues such as the lives of military officers after their careers are over, especially those who are disabled in some way, the way Frank was. On the other hand, the film was also funny and endearing in a way that I did not think it would be! I also liked the script which I thought was engaging and some really memorable quotes; “Women ! What can you say ? Who made 'em ? God must have been a fuckin' genius”. I also liked the relationship between the two main characters and how it develops over time was intriguing to watch. I don’t know where this film ranks on the IMDB Top 250 but I sincerely hope that it’s on the list!
The film came out in 1992, which means it’s as old as I am. The cinematography obviously reflects that in the quality of the picture, but not in the quality of scenes. The scene with Frank and the young lady at the café dancing the tango was so well captured and the way that everyone else was watching them was pretty reflective of how we were watching them. The music in the film was very rarely noticeable but every time there was any sort of emotional scene there was the soundtrack which as pointed out by my sister amusingly did sound similar to the music in ‘Finding Nemo’ when Marlin is reminiscing about Nemo’s childhood! Overall, this film was a definite surprise, and I really enjoyed watching it! I hope there are more Al Pacino films like this so that I can continue to test the waters in his filmography!