Movie Reviews

‘Being Flynn’: Like father like son

By Travis WongMovies - 09 May 2012 3:22 PM | Updated 3:30 PM

‘Being Flynn’: Like father like son

Robert DeNiro drives a cab again in his latest movie 'Being Flynn'

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Rating: 3 stars

The Stars: Robert DeNiro, Paul Dano, Julianne Moore

The Story:  Working in a Boston homeless shelter, Nick Flynn (Dano) re-encounters his father (DeNiro), a foul-mouthed bigot, con man and self-proclaimed writer. Sensing trouble in his own life, Nick wrestles with the notion of reaching out yet again to his dad.

The Buzz: Paul Weitz (‘About a Boy’) tackles a movie with heavyweights Robert DeNiro and Julianne Moore. thinks: There’s no doubt that Robert DeNiro could do with some better roles. It’s been painful watching him in movies such as ‘Meet The Fockers’, where he plays a parody of himself. In Paul Weitz’s downbeat drama ‘Being Flynn’, DeNiro does manage to redeem himself, with a role that has echoes of ‘Taxi Driver’ and other roles where he plays the solitary outcast.

Here, he’s the father to the main character, Nick. Nick is an aimless youth and aspiring writer who ruin every relationship he’s in. When he meets Denise (Olivia Thirlby), he is prompted by her to sign up to work in a homeless shelter. Nick, who was raised by mom (Julianne Moore), winds up meeting dad, and his relationship with his father does not much improve from there.

Rather, Nick is pulled into a downward spiral, echoing his father’s own plunge from his cab driver job (what else?) into desperate states. Similarly, Nick’s own attempt at becoming a writer seems to be headed for the gutter as well unless he manages to pull himself together.

Weitz lets DeNiro have the floor, though the character, a self-important misanthrope, tends to run off with the movie. Despite his racism, rants and ego, though, it’s a measure of DeNiro’s skill that you can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. Dano, who impressed in ‘There Will Be Blood’, frequently comes across as rather passive and content to stand aside for DeNiro.

Still, the gem in the movie is Julianne Moore’s performance as a wife caught between both the older and younger Flynn, and seemingly abandoned by them both. Her role is heart-wrenching and feels more genuine, particularly since she doesn’t have to spell everything out like DeNiro does.