There's something about this film that keeps you company. It's like you're also spending the weekend with Colonel Slade. The film entertains your darkest notions and tops your depth of grief and then somehow elevates you to find hope amidst our consciously blind existence.
At first I had a problem with Pacino's performance. I thought Al was definitely over-acting. He's playing a man who is consciously suicidal, a man suffering the loss of his dependence. He seems preoccupied in fulfilling a sexual desire but what he really yearns for is the acceptance of a woman now that he's been injured. However, even beyond his glorified apparition of woman what he presently needs is someone, anyone who will listen. He needs someone he can bark orders at like in the past. Some babe in the woods he can bemuse and corrupt amidst the decadence of `Freak Show Central', his personal nickname for New York City. In this contrived situation he finds life again and with these considerations Pacino's bravura performance is forgivable.
Pacino ironically switches energies with O'Donnell's character being the Colonel's high energy defuses Charlie's depressed low energy. The Colonel is psyched for his weekend's desperate romp, `A little tour of pleasures', he says. Given this distinction in performances, Charlie should have been the suicidal one, the defeated one because O'Donnell walks around this film like a deer caught in the headlights and there really isn't anything inspiring or motivating about him. It would have been an awesome acting exercise to have a young actor go against Pacino and realistically attempt to change his character's suicidal mission, granted his whole outlook on life yet what we have is a quick resolution that is very intense but not very intellectual.
In the end, this movie somehow manages to conduct all it's emotional payoffs thus rendering the viewer at the mercy of what may seem bathos. Many have criticized the film as negotiating Hollywood Plot A with Plot B or C. However, the Colonel realizes his biggest failure in life was in his interpersonal relationships. He learns that sometimes having friends can be a stronger and more important bond than family- a point well taken. Sometimes when a film comes together, after all the pre and post production, the result can be undeniably charming and this film manages to soar above its foundations, those manifested in the most basic of premises of melodrama. `Scent Of A Woman' does inevitably work and it's a very heart-warming film.
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