Scent of a Woman

Critics Consensus

It might soar on Al Pacino's performance more than the drama itself, but what a performance it is -- big, bold, occasionally over-the-top, and finally giving the Academy pause to award the star his first Oscar.



Total Count: 42
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Movie Info

Driven by an extravagant, tour-de-force performance by Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman is the story of Frank Slade (Pacino), a blind, retired army colonel who hires Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell), a poor college student on the verge of expulsion, to take care of him over Thanksgiving weekend. At the beginning of the weekend, Frank takes Charlie to New York, where he reveals to the student that he intends to visit his family, have a few terrific meals, sleep with a beautiful woman and, finally, commit suicide. The film follows the mis-matched pair over the course of the weekend, as they learn about life through their series of adventures. Though the story is a little contrived and predictable, it pulls all the right strings, thanks to O'Donnell's sympathetic supporting role and Pacino's powerful lead performance, for which he won his first Academy Award. Scent of a Woman is based on the 1975 Italian film Profumo Di Donna.

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Al Pacino
as Lt. Col. Frank Slade
Chris O'Donnell
as Charlie Simms
James Rebhorn
as Mr. Trask
Philip Seymour Hoffman
as George Willis Jr.
Richard Venture
as W.R. Slade
Nicholas Sadler
as Harry Havemeyer
Todd Louiso
as Trent Potter
Matt Smith (XI)
as Jimmy Jameson
Frances Conroy
as Christine Downes
June Squibb
as Mrs. Hunsaker
Ron Eldard
as Officer Gore
Sally Murphy
as Karen Rossi
Michael Santoro
as Donny Rossi
Alyson Feldman
as Francine Rossi
Erika Feldman
as Francine Rossi
Julian Stein
as Willie Rossi
Max Stein
as Willie Rossi
Ahn Duong
as Sofia
Leonard Gaines
as Freddie Bisco
Baxter Harris
as George Willis Sr.
Francie Swift
as Flight Attendant
Michel Simon
as Oak Room Waiter
William Beckwith
as Oak Room Maitre d'
J.T. Cromwell
as Ballroom Waiter
Peter Carew
as Bootblack
Paul Stocker
as Doorman
Mike Lisenco
as Cab Driver
Divina Cook
as Night Maid
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News & Interviews for Scent of a Woman

Critic Reviews for Scent of a Woman

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (9)

  • An irascible bully who proves to have a heart of gold, Pacino's character seems manufactured by a computer programmed with box-office grosses.

    May 27, 2011 | Full Review…
  • Scent of a Woman indulgently stretches a modest conceit well past the breaking point.

    May 21, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • Corny and heart-warming, with O'Donnell proving almost a match for the master.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The good thing is that the principals and film makers make the absolute most of a conventional opportunity.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • By the end of Scent of a Woman, we have arrived at the usual conclusion of the coming-of-age movie, and the usual conclusion of the prep school movie. But rarely have we been taken there with so much intelligence and skill.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • When all Pacino's demons are bared, they don't add up to the poignant punchline you were set up for.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

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