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Scent of a Woman

Year: 1992
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Martin Brest
Producer: Martin Brest
Cast: Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, James Rebhorn, Gabrielle Anwar
I get the feeling this movie was a much lighter teen drama in its original genesis, and when Pacino signed up it morphed into a gritty dramatic character piece – albeit just the bits with him in it.

The reason is because if you've ever heard an mp3 of one of Frank's (Pacino) monologues – particular the climatic one at Charlie's (O'Donnell) school – you'd think this was a dramatic military thriller in the league of A Few Good Men. But no, it's just a slightly fluffy story about a schoolboy who refuses to rat on his friends after a prank, the love/hate friendship he forges with a blind, cranky old army officer and the effect they have on each other.

When Charlie takes a summer job to pay his expensive boarding school bills while his rich friends go to ski resorts, it's babysitting a retired Lieutenant Colonel who promptly flies him first class to New York to enjoy a weekend of fine restaurants, five star hotels and hookers.

Mild mannered Charlie tries to stop the impetuous old man at every step, but he's inevitably caught up in the human whirlwind until he learns that Frank means to end his life, leading to an intense intertwining of their souls signified by the famous line that played in the trailer 'I don't know whether to kill you or adopt you.'

The disconnect between the premise and Pacino's character is slightly disconcerting, and you expect a character that large to fill a bigger, more important story.

Everyone else is kind of wishy washy – even a young Philip Seymour Hoffman – but Pacino is an absolute joy to watch. Not just the mechanical details of acting blind, but the dialogue he delivers and the unique style he brings to everything he does.

And be warned, the beautiful girl (Anwar) who was so much a feature of the marketing was a blatant come-on to male viewers – she was only in one scene.

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