April 20, 2004


Drag queen movies are the not the first genre I shop when I go to Blockbuster. However, I had caught a few minutes of this one on Bravo a few weeks back and it looked interesting. Bravo reshowed Flawless last weekend so I taped it.

Robert De Niro in a drag queen movie. No, Bobby doesn't wear a dress, but Philip Seymour Hoffman does, and Philip's performance is the best part of this film. I saw this on cable so I had to deal with commercials, but at least I could fast forward through them thanks to the VCR.

Philip plays Rusty (Busty Rusty) a professional female impersonator, who forges the most unlikely of bonds with De Niro's character Walter, a homophobic tough guy security guard who has a stroke. Walter's physical therapist tells him that singing lessons are great speech therapy. Rusty lives in the same building and Walter hears and sees him singing through his window, so he approaches him for lessons. They don't get along to begin with, but through the lessons they come to trust each other.

There is a murder at the center of this story, and Walter has his stroke when he tries to do something about it. Much money is stolen from a nasty gangster leading to the murder and the gangsters spend the whole flick trying to find it and get it back, making life difficult for all concerned.

Flawless is, unfortunately, flawed however. The main problem I had was De Niro's speech after the stroke. He can barely move his jaw, so much of his dialog is lost. And, the queen and the rent-a-cop don't really share enough on screen to justify what you see between them at the end.

Another weird aspect is that, seemingly, according to this script, all gay guys are either dress-wearing, makeup-smearing queens, or gay conservative Republicans. There isn't anything in between. The confrontation between the two groups is the worst scene in the film.

Spoiler alert:

What makes the movie for me is the end, where there is this big action scene involving the bad guys, Rusty, and Walter. You see the drag queen roll down three flights of stairs with a gun-wielding nasty boy, take him out (I would say how but...), and then climb up the side of the building and break in through the window to save Walter, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Collateral Damage.

There's also a great party scene that is a visual mindbender. It blends Rusty's drag buddies, Walter's security guard buddies, and other building residents in a small apartment. Seeing the tough guys dancing with the queens is hilarious.

This movie isn't great but it sure is different, and it has its moments. Some of the dialog is funny (you know those drag queens). I admire what director Joel Schumacher tried to do here, but he didn't pull it off. Bless him for trying.

I saw some really cheap VHS copies (29¢) on both Amazon and half.com. I'm sure it's better without the TV edits, and the sound quality I'm sure is better as well.

Posted by Wayne at April 20, 2004 11:25 PM
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