Movie review: “Flynn” falls

By Josh Stadtner

Movie review: “Flynn” falls

Director Paul Weitz’s new film, Being Flynn, starring Robert DeNiro, Paul Dano and Julianne Moore, doesn’t quite have the emotional resonance one would expect from such an all-star team. The film feels contrived and clichéd because it works on a single plane, hitting home a single theme, over and over again, summarized in timeworn themes like “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and “like father like son.”

Being Flynn begins with an aspiring writer named Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) who grows up never knowing his biological father, Jonathan Flynn (Robert De Niro). Through a set of bizarre circumstances, the two become in contact again and attempt to reconnect. Jonathan is a delusional cab driver and writer, claiming to be a “great American novelist” among the likes of Salinger or Twain. Nick works at a homeless shelter because he wants to do “something meaningful” with his life. However, due to their respective substance abuse issues and personal demons, they are constantly at odds.

Both characters serve as a mirror to the other and essentially the story unfolds around this concept. While audiences understand this point mainly because of the juxtaposition of both characters’ narration, the parallel is made overtly and abundantly clear. This is why when the elder Flynn screams. “You are me, Nicholas!” it feels indulgent and contrived. The lines written “on the nose” remove the audience from the realism of the narrative, which is a shame because the story based off Nick Flynn’s critically acclaimed memoir, Another Bullsh** Night in Suck City, is brilliant.

For an hour and twenty-six minutes, the audience is saturated in a deep-fried drama. Although the characters complete some sort of arc in the end, the plot meanders and dawdles. As the story progresses, the characters sink deeper and deeper into a morose maelstrom while hope and humor precipitously disappear.

There are also undoubtedly humorous parts that never fully materialized. It often feels as if Weitz was afraid to make it too funny, exemplified in the vulgar and absurd nature of De Niro’s character that almost makes the audience laugh, but doesn’t quite make it. These moments precipitously drop off into a complete train wreck.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel: Some hope remains at the end of Being Flynn. But is this really enough to sit through an hour and a half of despair? Don’t think so.

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