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"Being Flynn": Editing Obscures Emotional Drama 

Wednesday, Mar 7 2012
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Written and directed by Paul Weitz, Being Flynn is an adaptation of Nick Flynn's 2004 memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which explored the author's pivotal experience working at the Boston homeless shelter where his down-and-out dad Jonathan was a frequent guest. Paul Dano and Robert DeNiro play hipster-fuckup son and bigoted ex-con prodigal father. DeNiro might as well be wearing a mirrored sandwich board in his every scene opposite Dano, as the theatrics of his dissolving mental state are so blatantly a device to force Nick to confront a reflection of his own demons and fears (his mom's suicide, his escalating addictions, his ability to commit to neither women nor career). Then this subtext is turned into text in a climactic confrontation scene. "You are me! I made you!" Jonathan yells at Nick. The son's response? No, I'm not!" Being Flynn is as over-edited as your standard contemporary shoot-em-up. What the actors are unable to get across emotionally (which is a lot — Dano and DeNiro, both of them all big actorly tics, often seem like they were filmed in different rooms), Weitz hammers home via near-constant music. A welcome-to-the-shelter montage riding along on a breezy source cue? Uh, sure, okay. A major character's suicide dramatized via what amounts to a Badly Drawn Boy music video? Yikes.

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Karina Longworth

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