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Scent of a Woman (1992)

-Directed by Martin Brest,


-Screenplay by Bo Goldman,
-Starring Al Pacino, Chris ODonnell
Scent of a Woman is a beautifully crafted piece of drama, backed by deep
characters and their engaging interplay, holding on to the audience till the
last minute. Its a story of a prep-school student looking for a weekend
job, agrees to look after a blind, retired army colonel for the weekend, two
contrasting people, both of them unaware of the journey ahead, only to
experience the unexpected. In spite of having a mediocre or just-aboveaverage plot, it is the characters and exceptional performance by Al
Pacino, which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor, that brought
the character to life, deserving credit for making it look as brilliant on the
silver screen as it looked on paper, just what the movie makers intended
to.
Al Pacino plays Lt. Col. Frank Slade, a blind, retired army officer portrayed
as a bad tempered sulky old man. Bitter, resentful to everyone around him
and constantly criticising people for their behaviour and foolishness. A
sarcastic fellow with an unusual sense of humour, a character somewhat
difficult to understand or the reason why is he like that, which we come to
know more about during the later part of the movie. Loneliness and
isolation can frustrate a man beyond anything and to the extent where
one becomes indifferent to people around him, long undergone the
trauma of seclusion, and therefore hating any sort of sympathies, in his
words Im bad. No, Im not bad, Im rotten. A world weary man, with all
types of experiences with people and knowing about their darker side, in
this selfish world, having himself lived a life of honour, believing Ethics,
Integrity and character are too much to expect from anybody in this
materialistic world. His belief turns out to be inconsistent when he meets
Charlie Simms (Chris ODonnell), a student on scholarship from a prepschool, who had agreed to look after him for the weekend, so as to
manage his fare to home for Christmas. Frank believes Charlie is little
inexperienced, innocent to face the world, but at the same time admires
and likes him for his integrity and Character. He says I dont know son, to
shoot you or adopt you.
As the plot progresses, the audience is shown the other side of colonel.
Both of them get to know each other and a relationship between these
two characters on the diametrically opposite ends develops. It puts light
on the positive side of the old man, appreciating things and rather

surprising to see his compassion for Charlie and help Charlie with his
dilemma, unlike the way he insulted the young fellow when they first met.
We see frank doing tango, driving a Ferrari, and for the first time the
audience gets to see the joy on his face, when Charlie allows the blind old
man to test drive the Ferrari on the streets of New York City, Frank with a
big smile on his face, drives insanely. When Charlie says that frank might
get them both killed in an accident, the old man replies by saying Dont
blame me son, Im blind. But Frank knows very well that all these little
moments of pleasure wont stay with him all the time, he can only rejoice
them, accepting loneliness and sadness as the ultimate truth of his
remaining life, decides to end his life, only to be interrupted by Charlie. He
asks Oh Charlie, where do I go from here? , knowing he would have to
spend the rest of his life all alone in a room sitting on his armchair and
drinking. Charlie asks him to look on the brighter side of his life and Frank
is all tangled up so he should just tango on.
During all this, Charlie is going through a dilemma of whether to snitch on
his rich classmates or not. Also he was bribed and assured of admission in
Harvard had he squelched, but he decides not to. Frank advises him to
accept the bribe and attend Harvard, , but Charlie refuses to do so. Frank
tells him that by not accepting the bribe, he would be destroying his own
career. Frank is astonished by his code of conduct and ethics.
We see Frank as a changed man in the end, and Charlie getting away with
his problem. This interplay of both the characters where one is just a
debutant in the game of life and the other a veteran player, all enveloped
in a well-planned script is something to look forward to rather than the
actual plot which is easily predictable. Despite the plot, the viewer is
attached to the movie by outstanding dialogues and evolution of the
protagonist as the story unfurls. It is this wisdom of the old man and
lessons of life when every time Frank comments on something or advices
Charlie on any matter, that makes the movie worth watching. At the same
time, Charlie comes to know about the pain through which the old man
had been going through all these years, and he knows how hollow any
advice of his to remain positive may sound to the old man, but still tries to
keep the colonel motivated.
Both of the actors have played their part extremely well. Al Pacino playing
a blind man does exceptional job in all departments from dialogue
delivery to expressions, and has certainly reached colossal heights in this
well directed drama, also setting up a new benchmark for acting. The
suicide scene is the pinnacle of his skill, where he manages to bring up
multiple emotions on his face and moves the audience by getting so close
to the character. It certainly was a well-deserved Oscar for Pacino. Chris

ODonnell does a good job as well, and gets into character pretty good.
The movie is little long for a two character centred drama, but definitely
not draggy or sloppy. So if you like drama, or you appreciate stunning
acting performances, do consider Scent of a Women, it wont disappoint
you for sure.