Sharon Stone turned in a very strong performance as the wife of Kim Philby the British double agent. Why the producers chose not to use real names nor to do some basic research about the Soviet Union in the 1960s is a mystery.
One viewer already has made the point that many technical mistakes in the film were made. Least of which is the view of Christ the Savior Cathedral that was rebuilt in the 1990s and did not exist in Moscow in the 1960s. Additional mistakes include Aerorus instead of Aeroflot and probably the encounter that Sharon Stone had with the CIA in the USA. It would have been the FBI and any meeting would have taken place at the local Federal Building to protect the FBI agents from any accusations. The biggest error was the continual use of the word Russia or Russian for Soviet Union. When I lived in Leningrad as a student in 1974 one rarely heard the word Russia. It was only used in the context of language or culture but never in terms of governance like the Russian Embassy, Russian government etc.. in the USSR. There was great emphasis on the use of the word Soviet Union.
In general, the movie was a bit slow, there was some effort at moral equivalence between the West and the USSR but the acting was good and most viewers will draw the conclusion that a great drama was played out not only between the Philby character and his country but also with his wife and family.
The Scent of a Woman is the kind of film that many would think belongs to a bygone era. While it is frank and contemporary without sugar coating it illustrates the value of character over glitz and how small acts can have long lasting consequences.
The film pits two characters who are diametrical opposites. Al Pacino plays the world weary retired Army Lt. Colonel who through a stupid accident looses his sight and his way of life. Chris Donnelly is a young prep school kid on a scholarship whose way of life may be coming to an end owing to the acts of richer kids at the exclusive prep school who pull a stupid stunt.
The blind Lt. Colonel needs an escort so that he can go to NYC and have a rip roaring time before he makes a fateful decision. The poor preppy needs to earn a few bucks to travel and is in desperate need of some advice on how to get through his crisis at school.
The interplay between the two characters is mind boggling. It is more riveting than the best Grisham novel.
Both characters are asked to make life and death decisions that call for them to reach deep into their inner core. The right decision is unhappily the tougher decision to make.
Two terrific scenes that are not to be missed. The first is in the New York ballroom where the blind Lt. Colonel teaches the actress Miss Anwar to dance the tango. It is so smooth and dramatic that even a couch potato is tempted to reach for the Yellow Pages in search of dance lessons. The second and most profound is the speech that Al Pacino makes in defense of Chris Donnelly at the prep school disciplinary hearing. It has to go down as one of the great orations of all times.
The Scent of a Woman is very satisfying on many levels. The character development is superb, dialogue terrific, glamorous locations and a story line that requires the characters to show themselves to be the people they really are. The film has a lot of funny lines and great drama. This film is almost a 10 out of 10.
LOVE, ACTUALLY holds the promise of becoming an evergreen Christmas special. The theme that love is all around is treated in a humorous and adult fashion that most people over the age of 16 can relate to. The film has whimsy, pathos, mild erotica and some old fashion romance. If you have ever been in any of the situations as portrayed in the film then you will come away from this film with some memories that have been once again re-energized.
More than the stories is the spectrum of British and American talent on the screen. It is really hard to beat Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Alan Rickmann. The performance of the Portuguese maid to Colin Firth's writer's role was winsome and very authentic.
If you do not leave the cinema with a smile on your face and perhaps a tear in your eye then you might want to contemplate a monastic existence.