Flawless? Not Quite, but it is certainly a little heist gem. This year, with so far a fairly disappointing turnout of high calibre movies, a very narrow niche has been reinvigorated. That little slice of the celluloid pie (mmmm, sounds good) belongs to the British heist flick. With The Bank Job, and now with Flawless, this could mark the beginning of a revamp of all capper films to follow. Or at least we can hope.
Directed by Michael Radford, who has had little mainstream acknowledgment, (save perhaps the star studded Merchant of Venice) makes his shove into the limelight with a film although never destined to make the big bucks, hopefully at least will be sought out by some. Similarly to The Bank Job, Flawless concentrates more on atmosphere and character development then flashy drawn out robbery sequences, although that can most defiantly be rewarding, as seen in The Italian Job. The opening sequence is a hybrid of Blood Diamond and Lord of War, showing the journey of a diamond from a muddy African field to a throne atop a ladies dainty finger. This film has similar political views to that of Blood Diamond, and such morals are imbedded into multiple facets of the story. It also has elements of Pay it Forward, numerous cat and mouse thrillers, even a scene reminiscent of the opening monologue of Titanic. But as such, Flawless never rips of any of these films, and instead, combines a number of classic elements to create a riveting and original picture.
Most heist films either follow a straightforward narrative, where we follow key characters as they assemble their teams, and carry out the theft or, the other broad characterization is to opt for a scattered chronology, beginning with the hero in prison, where their fate is (sometimes) certain. Flawless manages to incorporate wisps' of both these narrative flows, and is better off because of it. Set in 60's London, we meet Michael Caine, who plays janitor "Mr Hobbs", a 15-year veteran employee of the largest supplier of diamonds at the time, The London Diamond Corporation. Still coping with the loss of his wife, he recruits the help of American Laura Quinn (Demi Moore), who is a sour senior administrator; sour because she has been passed up for promotion one too many times. (In addition to the fact that she learns she will be terminated shortly) Using their opposite shift work and positions to their advantage, they plan to steal enough diamonds to live their lives out in comfort.
Demi Moore has never been much of an actress, but despite her slipping English accent, she gives probably her best performance to date, fading into her role, and for once, playing a character that looks their age. The problem with her character is not with Moore's performance but with how she is presented; unsympathetic and shrill. She always seems unwilling and bitchy, which could be partly due to the stark contrast between Moore and her male counterpart's composure and cool. That "male" of course being Michael Caine, who is solid as always and makes for a very atypical criminal which is part of the films charm. He is sweet, old and can barely walk, but his history (which does not include training for a career in janitorial work) makes him a formidable foe. We get nice supporting work from the always devilish Lambert Wilson, who we all remember as The Merovingian from The Matrix Reloaded, as the internal investigator and from Joss Ackland as one of London Diamond's heads and who is a powerfully menacing figure. (He played Arjen Rudd, the evil African diplomat in Lethal Weapon II)
Flawless has a good feel for the times, in reference to the setting, clothing, dialogue, etc. The inevitable twist that is associated with almost all heist films stands alone in its uniqueness, which you will have to see to truly understand why it is different. Director Radford gives us some powerful sequences; one which perfectly captures the political intentions of the film involves Michael Caine's character tossing one of the largest cut diamonds in the world into a bin of tiny uncut stones, which the executives wouldn't floss their teeth with. It is a vivid reminder of what diamonds really are, and what we are willing to give and do for such.
Destined to be a ghost in the theatres, this is definitely a film to scrounge for on DVD shelves. Presenting emotionally charged and involving performances and extracting a blind-siding twist from a source which I though must have been drained years ago, Flawless is a solid and intellectually stimulating movie experience.
View all my reviews at Simon Says Movie Reviews: www.simonsaysmovies.blogspot.com