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Flawless (A Movie Review)

Updated: Oct 22, 2022




Starring Demi Moore, Michael Caine, Lambert Wilson, Joss Ackland, Constantine Gregory, Derren Nesbitt, Nathaniel Parker, Shaughan Seymour, Nicholas Jones, David Barrass, Silas Carson, Rosalind March, Kevan Willis and Stanley Townsend.

Screenplay by Edward Anderson.

Directed by Michael Radford.

Distributed by Magnolia Pictures.  105 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

Flawless takes place in a just-pre-swinging London.  About this time the Beatles are still playing the Cavern Club and the youth revolution hasn’t yet caught on.  Instead the London of this world is a somewhat stuffy, male-dominated and all too business oriented.

It centers around a diamond heist in the world’s largest (fictional) diamond exchange in London, a hallowed and armored citadel to conspicuous consumption and greed.  Two very different but somewhat outcast employees come up with a way to liberate a small amount of diamonds – just enough to live happily ever after off of – from the supposedly impregnable vault.

One is the first female exec of the company.  She is tired of being passed over for promotions for men who are not as able or worthy as she is.  The other is the janitor, who has been cleaning floors and toilets in the place overnight for over fifteen years and is about to be put out to pasture.

She is rather shocked when he approaches her with the idea, however when his prediction that her job may be on the line in the near future turns out to be accurate, she signs on.  However, neither one totally trusts or confides in the other.  And when more diamonds disappear than originally discussed, the two have to decide how far they are willing to go for their mysterious accomplice.

Sadly, one of the bigger problems with the movie starts at the top.  Once upon a time, Demi Moore was a very capable actress, but she’s never quite gotten her groove back since she wrecked her career on the rocks of Striptease in the 90s.  Her lead character of Laura Quinn is pinched, humorless and a bit strident.  This may even be an accurate gauge of how this character would have been in the stuffy real world of early 60s business – after all she is the only woman who has broken in to the realm of men and she must constantly stride to seem absolutely confident and competent.  This fact does not make the woman any easier to warm up to as a main character, though.

Luckily, many of Moore’s scenes put her up against Michael Caine, who nearly singlehandedly adds humanity to this somewhat sterile world.  (Useless trivia fact: Caine had played Moore’s father in her first major film role, the 80s sex comedy Blame It On Rio. Playing the longtime janitor who has figured out a foolproof way of robbing the diamond exchange, Caine sports his old-school cockney accent and pumps a little life into the proceedings whenever he is on screen.  His character is consistently surprising and quirky in a world where quirks are not allowed, and it even turns out that his motives are somewhat pure – love and revenge over money.  The role is nothing Caine that hasn’t done before, but he is always intriguing, even when the material isn’t always up to snuff.

The thing is, though, a lot of the material here is quite good, just done at a more measured and stately pace than may be necessary.  It is a bit of a snail’s pace for a supposed action film, so that while you can appreciate the plot intellectually there are very few adrenaline rush moments.  Even the legitimately exciting ideas come off as a little muffled and underwhelming.

It’s just Flawless‘ bad luck that the film is coming out within weeks of The Bank Job, a similar but infinitely more stylish movie.  This movie probably has a more clever heist (in fact, that movie’s heist was a bit of a botch job), but just comparing the pulses of the two films it leaves you with the inevitable reaction that while it has some brilliant segments, Flawless is a bit flawed.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2008  All rights reserved.  Posted: March 27, 2008.

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