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Being Flynn (2012) Is it possible for an actor to go through the motions even as he's going over the top? In Being Flynn , Robert De Niro… 2012-03-02 R PT102M Comedy Drama Paul Dano Robert De Niro Focus Features
Movie Review

Being Flynn (2012)

MPAA Rating: R

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DELUSIONAL FAMILY Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore in Being Flynn
Image credit: David Lee
DELUSIONAL FAMILY Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore in Being Flynn
EW's GRADE
C

Details Release Date: Mar 02, 2012; Rated: R; Length: 102 Minutes; Genres: Comedy, Drama; With: Paul Dano and Robert De Niro; Distributor: Focus Features

Is it possible for an actor to go through the motions even as he's going over the top? In Being Flynn, Robert De Niro does phoned-in scenery chewing. He gives a loud, ranting, shallowly aggressive performance as a "colorful" egomaniacal crank — a New York cabbie named Jonathan Flynn who spends his spare time scribbling away at an epic manuscript. He thinks he's one of the three greatest writers America has ever produced (the other two being Twain and Salinger). De Niro plays this outsider-artist deadbeat by pushing every line to the same level of empty, hectoring monotony. He never finds any poetry in Flynn's bellicose soul. He just makes you wish that the guy would shut up.

Flynn is the estranged father of Nick (Paul Dano), an aspiring fiction writer who goes to work in a Boston homeless shelter, where he encounters his hitting-the-skids dad. Dano, the gifted young string bean from There Will Be Blood and Little Miss Sunshine, looks lankier — and moodier — in every role; with his saddened amoeba face, he's quite convincing as a dark-side-of-the-moon bohemian. But Being Flynn, which is based on Nick Flynn's memoir Another Bulls--- Night in Suck City, never convinces you its central relationship is authentic. It just seems like another bulls--- indie set in Suck City. C

Originally posted Feb 29, 2012 Published in issue #1197 Feb 09, 2012 Order article reprints