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Being Flynn (2012)



Average Rating: 5.9/10
Reviews Counted: 76
Fresh: 39 | Rotten: 37

Robert De Niro gives a sincere, gripping performance, but Being Flynn is an uneasy mix of drama and comedy that fails to emotionally resonate as a whole.


Average Rating: 5.8/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 16

Robert De Niro gives a sincere, gripping performance, but Being Flynn is an uneasy mix of drama and comedy that fails to emotionally resonate as a whole.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 3,985

My Rating

Movie Info

Writer-director Paul Weitz turns his hand to this moving portrait of fathers and sons. Based on a true story, Being Flynn follows Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) who is shocked to have his eccentric and long-absent father, Jonathan (Robert De Niro) reach out to him unexpectedly. Still feeling the loss of his mother (played in flashbacks by Julianne Moore) in the midst of starting a new relationship with Denise (Olivia Thirlby), the last person Nick wants to see is his father. But you can't outrun fate



Paul Weitz, Nick Flynn

Jul 10, 2012


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All Critics (76) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (37) | DVD (1)

It's been ages since De Niro tackled a character as rich and challenging as this, and he tackles it head-on.

March 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

He might be guilty of showboating, but De Niro's knockout performance is a declaration that the star of "Raging Bull" isn't ready to hang up his gloves.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Weitz digs diligently for emotional truths and makes the most of his excellent cast.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I'm happy to report that De Niro hasn't lost his chops. At least not quite.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Heads downward in every sense of the word.

March 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For a movie that deals with suicide, homelessness and cocaine addiction, writer-director Paul Weitz's latest family drama feels strangely bland.

March 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

DeNiro is more "personality" than actor now.

June 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

De Niro has succumbed to the false perception that 'great acting' is synonymous with screaming and yelling every line like your career depended on it.

June 2, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

Being Flynn is too dark to appeal to the faint of heart and too safe to draw in those looking for an honest portrayal of a troubled father-son relationship.

September 15, 2012 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

It's a shame the studio didn't choose to keep the original title of the book in place, Another Bulls**t Night in Suck City would have been quite fitting for the film.

August 25, 2012 Full Review Source: NECN

Eventually, the movie warps in on itself and becomes its own parody: an overly pretentious movie about an overly pretentious writer, which is not very well written at all.

July 13, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Absolves Paul Weitz for having made Little Fockers and makes up for most of Robert De Niro's choices in the past few years.

May 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Paul Weitz's gritty, sweet but mostly unsentimental film of Flynn's book puts a flawed, unpleasantly realistic face on homelessness and gives Robert De Niro his best role in a decade.

March 23, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

On the whole, the film feels detached and morose, just like its characters.

March 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

De Niro's Jonathan wraps himself up in the fašade of his fictitious artistry. He's Jake La Motta by way of Blanche DuBois, who can only occasionally depend upon the kindness of strangers.

March 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Doddle

De Niro's blustering doesn't help and neither does the sentimental take on his possibly insoluble problems.

March 22, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

It's simply difficult to throw in with the film's reality-if not its essential story, then its details: Being Flynn feels indie art-directed instead of observed.

March 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

To his credit, De Niro actually gives a committed performance for a change. But that doesn't mean what it once did.

March 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

...a perfectly watchable adaptation of Flynn's true-life memoir.

March 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Never underestimate the dramatic power of father-son bonding

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

The revelation, truly, is De Niro. It's been ages since he's dived fully and credibly into a dramatic character and lived inside its skin as he used to do routinely.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Oregonian

It's a complex emotional soup, taken from a 2004 book by poet Nick Flynn, and one that demands much from all involved.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for Being Flynn

Inspiring and touching. Great cast, excellent story
April 24, 2013

Super Reviewer

"First off, great cast. I really liked more then half of the actor's in this and I was really wanting to see this movie. The story is depressing. The father and son are very much alike. They are both writers, loners, and dependent on substances to help them deal with life. Things really start getting ugly when Jonathan starts staying at the homeless shelter his son, Nick works at. Nick is embarrassed of Jon and wants nothing to do with him and even pleads with him numerous of times to, please leave. But Jon seems to think since he created Nick he has a right to him. It's as dysfunctional as it gets in this father and son tale. I did enjoy the movie and the story being told. I really think Dano and De Niro did a fantastic job. All the acting was good. A solid film."
December 11, 2012

Super Reviewer

Based on his memoirs, this is the story of Nick Flynn- a burgeoning writer who is struggling to find his place in the world. His mother committed suicide, and he hasn't seen his wayward con of a father in 18 years. Nick takes a job at a homeless shelter to aid in his quest for meaning, and one day happens upon his father who becomes a quest at the shelter.

From there the film shifts its focus back and forth between Nick and his dad, both trying to live their lives.

It all sounds like this could have been a rather sentimental film, and, while there is a tad bit of that in there, it's mostly unglamorous, not very sentimental, and rather bittersweet and melancholy. and make something of themselves, and both struggling to deal with the past and their current realities and fractured relationship with one another.

It's also rather disjointed and unsure of itself at times. I applaud writer/director Paul Weitz for trying his hand at some mildly challenging material, but it feels like he never finds steady ground or confidence with this material all that often. He does have some major cojones for having his film start out with De Niro driving a taxi into the mean streets of NYC, though. As interesting as the character of Jonathan Flynn is, the movie is supposed ot be Nick's story, with Jonathan as a major supporter. When the film is solely focused on Nick, it's great, but when Jonathan becomes the main focus, the film isn't as good, and feels all over the place.

However, this is still a really good story, and it's a fascinating look into the world of homelessness. Some of the best material has to be when Nick explains the day to day operations of things at the shelter, and it very much reminded me of those moments from some of Scorsese's mob movies that detail the daily operations of the criminal underground. This film even has a decent amount of voiceover! Man, Weitz really does have a lot of guts!

Anyways, this film might be flawed, but it's still pretty good. What ultimately saves it are the performances. Dano is quite believable as the conflicted and lost Nick, and this is another example of how he is one of the best actors of his generation. Olivia Thirlby is also quite strong as Nick's 'love interest', a fellow employee at the shelter with a troubled past of her own. It was also nice seeing Wes Studi again, perhaps the first new film I've seen him in since perhaps the 90s maybe. Julianne Moore is also pretty good in her limited but important role as Nick's mom. And what about De Niro? Well, this is probably one of, if not the best performance of his is about a decade or so. He's great at conveying the delusions and frustrations of the angry, bitter, and unhinged Jonathan. He kinda goes off the deep end a bit much here and there, and this is far from a career best for him, but it's miles better than the bulk of what he's done recently.

All in all, I do recommend this. It's got its problems, and barely scrapes by, but it is entertaining, and has some great performances, so I think that's enough to warrant a watch.
November 16, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

"Being Flynn" succeeds at making some very interesting observations about the burdensome relationship between parent and offspring, but for a film that deals with some very heavy subject matter (including drugs, homelessness, insanity, and dysfunctional families), it feels oddly weightless, fleeting, and ultimately a missed opportunity.
September 9, 2012
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

    1. Jonathan: One writer to another. I don't care how good a writer you are, you can't kill someone with words.
    – Submitted by Rona K (23 months ago)
    1. Jonathan Flynn: Life is gathering material.
    – Submitted by Chrisi P (2 years ago)
    1. Jonathan Flynn: Of course, writers, especially poets, are particularly prone to madness.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Jonathan Flynn: I'm Jonathan Flynn. Everything I write is a masterpiece.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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