Flawless (1999)



Critic Consensus: Uneven performances, formulaic.

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Movie Info

Can a homophobic former rent-a-cop find happiness learning to sing with a man in a dress? That's the big question in this comedy-drama. A retired security guard (Robert De Niro), deeply conservative and set in his ways, falls victim to a debilitating stroke. His doctors prescribe an extensive program of physical therapy once he's released from the hospital, including singing lessons to help him regain his full powers of speech. As it turns out, there's a vocal instructor living next door to the guard, so he signs up only to discover that his new teacher is a flamboyant drag queen awaiting a sex-change operation (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Written and directed by Joel Schumacher, Flawless also stars Wilson Jermaine Heredia and Daphne Rubin-Vega, both of whom first gained notice in the Broadway musical +Rent, as well as Rory Cochran and Barry Miller.
R (for pervasive language and strong violence)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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Robert De Niro
as Walt Koontz
Philip Seymour Hoffman
as Rusty Zimmerman
Barry Miller
as Leonard Wilcox
Chris Bauer
as Jacko
Nashom Benjamin
as Amazing Grace
Vincent Laresca
as Raymond Camacho
Jude Ciccolella
as Det. Noonan
Mina Bern
as Mrs. Spivak
Madhur Jaffrey
as Dr. Nirmala
Mark Margolis
as Vinnie
Luis Saguar
as Mr. Z
Kyle Rivers
as LeShaun
Sammy Rhee
as Mr. Pim
Hyunsoo Lee
as Mrs. Pin
Penny Balfour
as Cristal
Raven O
as Notorious F.A.G.
Joey Arias
as Stormy
Jackie Beat
as Gypsy
Craig Braun
as Paulie
John Doumanian
as Mr. Terzola
Melissa Osborn
as Tourist
John Contratti
as Customer
Rod Rodriguez
as Lesbian
Antonette Schwartzberg
as Mrs. Terzola
Hamilton De Oliveira
as Hotel Janitor
John Polce
as Walt Stand-In
Logan McCall
as EMS Technician
John E. Mack
as EMS Technician
John R. Corcoran
as Physical Therapist
Matt Merchant
as Man in Crowd
Kevin Aviance
as Singer
Coco LaChine
as Singer
Bruce Roberts
as Singer
Al Marz
as Cristal's Boyfriend
Larry Marx
as Bar Patron
Mitchell Lichtenstein
as Gay Republican Spokesperson
John Fink
as Gay Republican Lawyer
Bret Kropp
as Drag Queen
as Cop
Al Thompson
as Paramedic
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Critic Reviews for Flawless

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (11)

Outdated and schematic, this two-character melodrama belongs to the 1970s, when transsexuals were "novel" dramatic persona; even the gifted Philip Seymour Hoffman is defeated by the writing and direction.

Full Review… | July 3, 2006
Top Critic

For what it's worth, this could be Schumacher's best film.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Its weary clichés and flat comic bits are apparently supposed to be fresh and insightful.

February 20, 2004
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

"Flawless" is contrived and overly schematic, but De Niro and Hoffman are such good actors that it never slips into pat sentiment.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

So awful it just might put an end to Hollywood's hypocritical infatuation with men in drag as symbols of its own supposedly liberated sexual attitudes.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
New York Times
Top Critic

Any humanity in the script is diluted to the point of nonexistence by Schumacher's refusal to allow any of his characters to develop beyond the stereotype stage.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Flawless

I cannot believe that this film is so underrated... I found the story of Walter Koontz (Robert De Niro) - highly decorated "local hero" police officer - amazing! Well developed and done with warmness - warmness missing from most of the movies today! The real story starts when one night, Walter hears gunshots upstairs, and while ascending to help he suffers a stroke. Awakening with the right side of his body paralysed is something he is not used to, and his poor speech and posture gives a massive blow to his ego... so much that Walter becomes ashamed to be seen in public. Rusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is one of Walter's drag queen neighbours and the two are at-odds constantly due to their differing lifestyles. Rusty has a desire to undergo a transsexual operation, but lacks the money to do so. When Walter comes to Rusty to use his musical talents for voice lessons to overcome his impediment, the pair while at first argumentative and uncomfortable with the other begin to become friends. Good acting from two real stars, but nothing spectacular. The screenplay is sometimes very rough around the edges... but it is real as it can be... Joel Schumacher did well in that part, but the directing was too formulaic, and that is the reason for the lower rating! This film could be so much better if he was a little bit braver!

Panta Oz
Panta Oz

Super Reviewer

I enjoyed this movie far more than the rating implies. The problem I have with the movie is that it never really seems to stick to one form of storytelling. Sometimes it wants to be a comedy, sometimes it wants to be a drama, sometimes it wants to be a suspense (the Mr. Z part of the story, more specifically), but it never really manages to combine all three convincingly. There are plenty of movies that have gotten away with this because they know how to combine all the elements. It's an uneven movie in a lot of ways. It definitely could have been better, but I'm not complaining because I still really liked this movie. All of it has to do with the acting. Robert and Philip overcome the movie's unevenness and their performances are really good (though it's mostly Philip's performance). I liked the relationship between their characters and their interactions, however bare-bones they actually are. It doesn't go as deep (pun NOT intended...perverts) into the characters as I'd have liked, but they do just enough I guess. I also liked the characters of Rusty's friend. They were funny, especially at the end of the movie. Also, the movie near the end almost falls apart. It didn't, but it was not looking good at all. I could also tell, that if I was watching this movie alone I may not have liked it as much. Case in point, I watched Bad Company again (don't ask) and I enjoyed it more because I wasn't alone. Anyway, this is a good movie. If you have Starz On Demand then watching this movie isn't the worst thing you can do, especially with Did You hear about the Morgans? in there.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer


Philip Seymour Hoffman's master-class performance as troubled drag queen Rusty sadly goes to waste in this laughable film. "Rusty" stands as the lone well-written character in this pathetic "drama". FLAWLESS's terrible directing, editing and writing, as well as its inappropriate soundtrack (a peppy samba for chase scenes/gunfights, really?) and a forgettable turn by Robert De Niro are no match for Hoffman's insane talent as a character actor.

Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda
Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda

Super Reviewer

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