Scent Of A Woman and why it and Al Pacino will forever be my faves

A young prep school student spends a weekend caring for a blind ex-US serviceman.

Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell) is a boy from a poor family in Oregon who wants enough money to make it home from his posh all-boys boarding school in time for Christmas. He finds a job offer ‘babysitting’ for a nearby family, but doesn’t expect to be left as the sole carer for rude, blind ex-lieutenant colonel, Frank Slade (Al Pacino), over the Thanksgiving weekend. Through lack of wanting to seem rude, Charlie reluctantly accepts the job, but before foot is barely in the door, Frank whisks him off to New York City where he has many extravagant things planned. All the time, however, Charlie spends worrying how events may turn out for him when he arrives back at school the following week. He and a friend, George Willis (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), were witness to a school yard felony and have been assured they will be expelled if they do not squeal on who did it. With that hanging over his head and Frank promising to kill himself before going home, it looks set to be a hard Thanksgiving for Charlie.

Scent Of A Woman is a lovely film that I am going to urge you to watch straight off the bat. I honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with it. The performances were wonderful, there was dark humour and, on the whole, the story was really uplifting. I won’t lie and tell you that there weren’t times it got a bit depressing, but when it did low, it very quickly got back up on its feet and you felt very good watching it. It think, like Forrest Gump, Scent Of A Woman is a film I could watch again everyday for the next week and enjoy it equally as much. Simply marvellous.

The best thing about this film is the quality of the performances. Pacino, what a wonderful man he is, won a long-overdue Oscar for his role and rightly do. I would say he gave the performance of a lifetime, but he has done that on a number of occasions, and so it wouldn’t really be fair to say that. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must have been to play a blind man when you can see perfectly well, and I cannot fault Pacino for his execution of the role. In all fairness, if I hadn’t have known any better, I’d have seriously thought he could’ve been blind. However, despite his character having no vision, Pacino – as always – still put the fear of God in me like he did when he played Michael Corleone all those years before. It seems to me that he likes to pick roles where there is a very fine balancing act going on with the character, and if anyone upsets that balance, they will have hell to pay for. I don’t mind though, it’s great to watch.

Now, with someone of Pacino’s stature playing a role of that magnitude and doing so very, very well, I bet it was very intimidating to Chris O’Donnell to act alongside it. Again, I couldn’t find any flaws in his performance so I’m guessing if there were any nerves, he didn’t let them get the better of him. Charlie, whilst still only a boy, promised to be a man of fierce integrity in the way that he showed up to take care of Frank even when he found out what it entailed, and in how he wouldn’t sell himself out in order to get a place at Harvard. He was the right match for Frank, and Pacino’s character made a man of him in just a weekend. It was a wonderful partnership, and really lovely to watch.

This film had very quickly cemented itself as one of my all-time favourites, and it’s the reason why I now watch any Pacino film I come across. Since first watching it during the summer holidays, I have bought the film on DVD and actually lost count of how many times I’ve watched it despite only discovering it a few months ago. My favourite part is the speech that Frank makes in true Pacino fashion at the end in a bid to clear Charlie’s name – I’ve got a clip of it saved on my iPad and whenever I feel like I need a bit of motivation in life, I turn to it (you’ll be glad to hear that I now know nearly all the words and am currently working on perfecting the New York accent). It is a very well written part of the script that was most certainly delivered by the right man, and I have absolutely no doubts that that scene alone would’ve won Pacino the Oscar. Even if you don’t watch the film, for God’s sake just Youtube that scene because it will not be a waste of five minutes if your day.

All in all, I very highly recommend that you go out of your way to watch Scent Of A Woman at the next opportunity you get. It is quite a feel-good film that everyone can enjoy, and I think you’ll agree with me when I say you could watch it numerous times and still enjoy it as much as you did the first.

See also: Glengarry Glen Ross – a story for everyone who works for a living


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Kira Comerford

Film and TV lover with hopes to one day make my own projects for everyone to enjoy. Until then, I'm giving my thoughts on what I watch for inspiration.

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