Paul Dano stars as Nick - the lost soul son of Jonathan (Robert De
Niro), who left him behind 18 years ago. All Nick knows of Jonathan
comes from letters sent from pop to kid, and advice from his mother,
Jody (Julianne Moore), not to become a writer like his old man.
As we see, he does want to be a writer, but needs to work at a local
homeless shelter to earn a few bucks to pay the bills. While Nick is
trying to make his way through this world, and meets a special new
lady, Denise (Olivia Thirlby), Jonathan reaches out to his son, and
their interactions bring up all sorts of old feelings and fears, while
making us wonder what will become of the father, whose life is
spiraling out of control.
Throughout Being Flynn, I kept getting the feeling
writer/director Paul Weitz (based on the book from Nick Flynn) was
trying to say something deep, meaningful and purposeful, but the
movie's strength is observational. The impact comes from watching Dano
and De Niro, not so much from the dialogue or story.
Watching De Niro is eye-opening for any member of the audience. He
captures Jonathan's delusions, anger, depression, angst and overall
decline with a shocking ferocity time and time again as he falls deeper
and deeper into the whole he digs for himself. Even Dano gets revved up
enough to wake up at some point during the movie and attempt to match
De Niro. He can't match the legend step for step, but does a good job
keeping up with De Niro.
Yet, Being Flynn takes a while to get going. Eventually, it all
starts to make sense and come together as Weitz shows us how mingling
with Jonathan starts to awaken Nick as to the future he has and the
present problems that must be addressed, but it takes a little too long
to get there. Patience pays off, but maybe not enough for most.
If you love watching De Niro, Being Flynn is the movie for you.
Being Flynn is rated R for language throughout,
some sexual content, drug use, and brief nudity.