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


Audience Score

User Ratings: 119,060
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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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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…

Audience Reviews for Scent of a Woman

  • Jan 03, 2017
    This was a random find on Netflix. Very enjoyable, with a superb performance from Dustin Hoffman. No wonder this won him an Oscar, very well deserved.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 08, 2014
    Al Pacino is magic in this film. You can't take his eyes of him. Added to this, the film is moving and carries an important message. It is a satisfying, uplifting, triumphant film that must be watched!
    Matthew Samuel M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 12, 2014
    Pacino is good but not great in this tale of a blind man in his allegedly final weekend. Sentimental to perhaps a fault, it is nonetheless good to see Al win an Oscar finally.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 29, 2013
    Scent Of A Woman is one of them films that really blows you away if you're not expecting it. Like The Place Beyond The Pines, I got so much more than I was expecting. Al Pacino has never had a better role since Godfather 1 & 2. He just BLOWS YOU AWAY, he is on top form. It's funny this is Chris O'Donnells best performance to date and yet it was one of his first! The running time is 150mins which scared me but I was gripped the whole time. I had to stop half an hour in due to the time but I just wanted to carry on so much. The story is amazing and even carries a moral message. It follows a young college student who goes to earn money by looking after a knowledgable blind war veteran while dealing with a big problem at school. It's captivating from start to finish. As I said early, and I cannot stress this enough, Al Pacino has hardly ever been better, he is breathtaking in every scene he is in. The whole mentor, student relationship is interesting throughout & Chris wasn't even a hinderance. There are so many amazing scenes in this movie. It is a classic for sure. It is the only film Al Pacino has ever won an oscar for, and you definitely see why. He is one of the greatest American actors who has ever lived. Overall, Al Pacino brings out an AMAZING performance, the supporting cast are excellent, the story and it's progression are amazing, a great score and a definite classic.
    Luke C Super Reviewer

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