One of the most satisfying types of crime dramas is the heist flick. Audiences traditionally respond very well to a movie that details a complex plot to steal something expensive. This venerable format also opens the doors for a lot of variety. You can go with a rag tag group of professional criminals or as in the case of ‘Flawless’ a couple of talented amateurs to perpetrate the crime. While heist flicks like the ‘Ocean’s 11’ series have more in the way of pure excitement ‘Flawless’ has a rare quality for this type of film, charm. The wannabe criminals are regular people allowing the audience more of an opportunity to identify with them. This is the kind of movie that tends to rate better with audiences than critics. When reviewing a film note must be taken of the technical aspects of the film; the lighting, the flow, etc. It is sometimes difficult when addressing these required elements of a movie to just watch it like any member of the audience. This is definitely the case here. There are flaws, occasionally serious, that plague the film and they will be discussed later on here. The main point is the film works as entertainment. It has a cast that includes Michael Cain and as always his performance manages to make this movie fun to watch. Some films are intended to be analyzed but this is not one of them.
This is the first script for Edward Anderson. He makes some interesting choices in writing this story. First of all it is a period piece. The motivation of the characters is dependent on them being in a certain place and time, In this case it is the mid sixties. The female protagonist has hit the glass ceiling; that barrier that existed in the corporate world that prevented women form receiving the same professional advantages as their make counterparts. Thankfully some great strides have been made to remove the glass ceiling and there are more female executives than ever. The story also focuses on another disenfranchised member of the workplace, the retiree. After a life of service to a company people hit a predetermined age and they are out. Both of these sets of circumstances are at work here to give a somewhat rational reason for wanting to steal some diamonds. It is also easier for the audience to sympathize with the thieves. It is more difficult to make criminals into characters the audience can understand without making them the villains of the flick. Sure, you can go more to the comic end of the spectrum but for a drama it is vital for the viewers to be able to put themselves in the place of the leads. This is done very well by Anderson’s script. You watch knowing that they are committing a crime but you root for them; wanting them to get away with it. Many in the audience have felt that they were treated unfairly at work or have retirement looming ahead. These are well written characters who are motivated by a hope of some financial security with a hefty amount of revenge added for good measure. There are some points where the script falls short. There are plot holes big enough to drive a truck through here. Aside from the leads the other characters are painted with too broad a brush for the audience to react properly to them. There is even unevenness in how the main characters are presented. While their situations are well done in the script the female lead is simultaneously a bright women and able to make some of the dumbest actions possible. This is one of the situations where the audience will be more forgiving that a critic. I liked the story and found it entertaining but the nagging faults keep pulling out of the film.
The director, Michael Radford, certainly has variety in his resume. He has some sleeper hits like ‘Il Postino’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ to his credit. He also directed one of the most imaginative stripper flicks ever, ‘Dancing at the Blue Iguana’ where the actors improvised and work shopped the entire movie. This at least demonstrates that Radford has imagination and is willing to take a risk. With his direction of this film he seemed like he was playing it safe. He doesn’t concentrate at all on the social issues that are part of the foundation of the plot. Things like the glass ceiling are mentioned in passing but would have benefited the film if more attention was given to them. Under some of the newly proposed ratings guidelines where smoking would give an extra warning, this film would not be rated PG-13. Radford seems to love showing people, especially women smoking. He also is fascinated with high heels. Perhaps these were reasons he became involved in the ‘Blue Iguana’ movie, there was plenty of both there too. There was also the barely covered aspect of the diamonds being stolen were blood diamond. This is still a hot social topic and should have been made a more important point in the film. Even with this being said his direction is generally solid and professional. He keeps the flow of the story moving at a good clip editing the film tightly.
In the film Sir Michael Cain plays Hobbs, a janitor for the London Diamond Corporation. He has spent his whole life cleaning up after the people in the company. Now his retirement will leave him barely able to make ends meet. He comes across Laura Quinn (Demi Moore), the firm’s only woman manager. Flashbacks show that she had to arrive at work earlier, leave later and work more than twice as hard as any man in the company. It is also clear to her that although men in her position can look forward to future promotions and raises she has reached as far as she can in the company. When the company is about to lose a critical contract with the Russians she comes up with the solution but is not only kept out of the loop she is facing termination. Hobbs discovers this and warns her. Together they come up with a plan that offers payback and financial security; rob the company. Here is where one of the most implausible aspects of the story comes in. They plan to steal enough diamonds to make them rich but not enough to give rise to suspicions. In any company dealing with the trade of diamonds there is no such thing as too small to notice.
Moore is good in her role. She can handle the sixties period with style and ability. She also looks great in the sixties outfits. She almost sells the role as the hard working woman whose gender negates her efforts and talent. As always Sir Michael is incredible. I cannot remember a film with him that I didn’t enjoy thoroughly. He is the perfect choice for Hobbs, a man of years looking back at decades of service. He makes the audience understand why he plans a crime of this level. His is extremely talented, the consummate professional and one of the most enjoyable actors ever.
The film comes to DVD through Magnolia as part of their great library of movies that did not get much a chance in the theaters. This is one film that you should get and enjoy; just don’t try to think about it too much.