Scent of a Woman (1992)
November 26, 2016 9:12 PM - Subscribe

A prep school student needing money agrees to "babysit" a blind man, but the job is not at all what he anticipated. Directed by Martin Brest, starring Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnel
posted by the man of twists and turns (7 comments total)
This is one of the very few movies I have ever turned off in the middle.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:27 PM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Fine, it was later encheesenated by "Hoo-wah" and the Oscar was probably given at least partially for Pacino's previous work. But...


Also, Philip Seymour Hoffman kills as George Willis, Jr. Brad Whitford is in there playing (what else) a yuppie dick. It's the first time Ron Eldard is playing a cop/fireman/ambulance tech.

But really, James Rebhorn at his James Rebhorn peak.
posted by aureliobuendia at 3:20 AM on November 28, 2016

This is one of my favorite movies, and one of the few that has ever interested me in the least about traveling to New York. The supporting acting is terrific. Pacino gets a lot of hype, but O'Donnell, PSH, and Rebhorn are all perfect, PSH in particular.

Concentrating on the outcome misses the point of the film, to me. In addition to the fancy high-life stuff, the story really is about Charlie's decision-making process - being bribed, finding out that George is selling him out, etc. For the most part, that remains unresolved at the end. He makes the decision not to snitch, but it's not like he made the decision on principle. It's more of a Hamlet-esque indecision. Slade is the deus ex machina who makes the decision for him. Had Slade not given his speech, Charlie would continue going back and forth forever, ruminating whether he did the right thing or not. Slade gives him the cover to move on. I suspect that whatever Charlie had chosen, Slade would defend his choice. Slade appears in the "court" not to justify one course of action, but to reward and repay Charlie for his loyalty. That's the bigger picture: snitching or not snitching on some prep-school classmates is a minor detail, but Charlie's interactions with Slade are what show his true character.

I don't really like the implication of the linked article that Charlie decided not to snitch because it would make him more popular with his classmates. The whole point of the Slade story was that Charlie was willing to stand up to others and make unpopular decisions (i.e., talking Slade out of killing himself).

One other thing to consider is that Trask is being a bit unfair by hanging Charlie and George out like that. Certainly there must be other ways to identify the perpetrators. (This is mentioned in the comments of the article.) This helps with the characterization of Trask as someone who abuses his authority.

Great Thanksgiving movie, though. There are movies for every other holiday, but Thanksgiving doesn't have many. Some sublime autumnal cinematography.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:17 AM on November 29, 2016

I'm with Chrysostom on this one: I do not get the love for this movie, but fortunately I've managed to block enough of it from my memory that I don't have anything further to contribute to the discussion. Except that it's a travesty that this is the performance to which the Academy finally decided to give Pacino his Oscar. But does anybody even contest that?
posted by Nerd of the North at 6:14 PM on November 29, 2016

Metafilter: I'm with Chrysostom on this one
posted by Chrysostom at 9:56 PM on November 29, 2016

This is a cheesy fun movie, though some parts are so dumb I don't begrudge people their dislike. I like your take on the ethics of the finale kevinbelt, it always struck me as kind of a chump's move to take the fall for the rich kids, and perfectly honorable to "snitch" if that means not allowing them to stand by while the poor kid takes the fall for their prank.

As to the Academy Award for Pacino, it can't possibly be a travesty for Pacino to get the Oscar, you have to have some integrity as an organization for that to happen. The awards always go to whatever is the most comforting choice for old rich guys who populate the film business.
posted by skewed at 3:39 PM on December 5, 2016

I didn't shut the movie off or walk out in the middle, but I do remember being embarrassed for Pacino, as director Martin Brest (whose last movie was Gigli, incidentally) not only let him chew on the scenery but provided a knife and fork. I'd agree that he deserved an Oscar for better work. Coincidentally, I rewatched Heat not too long ago, and it's remarkable how Pacino used the more scenery-chewy moments as punctuation to quieter, more thoughtful acting.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:45 AM on December 6, 2016

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