Being Flynn: movie review

The film, in which Robert De Niro comes across as a Method caricature, is a mix of genuinely touching and hokey moments.

David Lee/HONS/Focus Features/AP
Paul Dano (l.) comes off as restrained in 'Being Flynn' in contrast to Robert De Niro's scenery-chewing.

In “Being Flynn,” based on Nick Flynn’s 2004 memoir, a dissolute, delusional ex-con father, Jonathan Flynn (Robert De Niro), and his son Nick (Paul Dano), an aspiring writer struggling with drug addiction, meet up accidentally after an 18-year separation in the homeless shelter where Nick is working.

After years of appearing in marginal roles in marginal (if sometimes highly commercial) movies, De Niro finally has a role he can sink his teeth into, but all those years of hamming it up have taken their toll. Even though this is the best sustained work he’s done in a long time, he still comes across as more of a Method caricature than a full-fledged flesh-and-blood creation.

Dano is still doing his ethereal, creepy underacting routine, but, compared with De Niro’s scenery chewing, he seems almost dignified. The film, written and directed by Paul Weitz, has many touching moments and many more hokey ones. Grade: B (Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content, drug use, and brief nudity.)

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