Being Flynn Paul Weitz

Being Flynn Paul Weitz
Being both accessible and artfully stylized by sheer narrative necessity, focusing more on the emotional and analytical than genre trends and counter-expectations, Being Flynn is an easy target for criticism. It's too grounded in reality to appeal in a visceral, broad sense and far too honest with itself to appeal as oblique or challenging art. In truth, it's a thoughtful, sincere and often rather insightful film that has the misfortune of existing in a time where such things are only acknowledged by deliberately eschewing the mainstream and playing as coolly as possible. But despite not pandering to image-preoccupied critics or a Glee-watching mainstream, this adaptation of the Nick Flynn novel, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, is filled with an abundance of human truths and touching moments. Nick (Paul Dano) is an ersatz writer-cum-loser stereotype riding the coattails of bohemian living to its bitter and protracted end. Listless and unfocused, he accepts a job working at a homeless shelter with the similarly damaged, although more mysterious, Denise (Olivia Thirlby), only to encounter his estranged, homeless, increasingly erratic father, Jonathan (Robert de Niro). Because this depressing, yet optimistic, tale of finding self-confidence in a world content to watch you crash and burn is about inner-ideology and identity as a projection of will, the story is almost incidental compared to character feeling, state and driving impetus. Nick's crisis of identity and conscious failures are exacerbated by the presence of his father ― a likely future image of self ― in his life at a time of crisis. Is he doomed to a life of repetition and self-loathing or is it possible to escape the cycle? Amidst this process of self-actualization are various stylistic decisions to truncate the story in favour of feeling, such as unreliable narration that vacillates between Nick, Jonathan and Nick's projection of Jonathan, as well as future projections of character inevitabilities and flashbacks to Nick's childhood. It's these dreamlike moments of self-realization and the touching flashbacks of Flynn and his hardworking, defeated, but determined mother (played by Julianne Moore, at the top of her underplayed game) that give this story its heart. Whether it's a sequence involving a game of catch with Nick's various father figures or the looming, ghostly presence of his mother at key, life-defining moments, the tender heartaches of life are acknowledged and presented without shame or self-consciousness. Unfortunately, given the limited critical and box office appeal of the film, the only supplement included with the DVD is a brief featurette where Flynn, Weitz and the various actors dole out brief accolades for the work. We learn only that it took Weitz nearly a decade to get the film made. (Alliance)