It may not be as insensitive as Blood Diamond‘s inane examination of the diamond industry and its accompanying slave trade, but Flawless‘s utilization of the issue as a mere diversionary plot point is nonetheless plenty distasteful. And yet as far as heist films go, there are worse than Michael Radford’s period piece, a sturdy and efficient—if overly reserved—caper about a plot to pilfer some valuable stones from the London Diamond Corporation in 1960 London. The plan in question is hatched by a janitor, Hobbs (Michael Caine), who recruits as his accomplice the company’s sole female executive, Laura Quinn (Demi Moore), who agrees to go along with the daring crime once she’s informed by Hobbs that—after years of being unfairly passed over for promotions because of her gender—she’s about to be unceremoniously fired and blacklisted. By framing the story with scenes of an elderly Quinn (Moore in bad latex makeup) recounting her tale to a reporter interested in “women who led,” Flawless promises a tale of female empowerment (or, at least, feminist revenge) that never really materializes, as Quinn, despite being a smart, tough career woman, turns out to also be simply a pawn in Hobbs’s more-elaborate-than-it-initially-appears scheme. Radford’s orchestration of the central robbery is polished, though smarter than any one aesthetic decision is the director’s casting of Caine, who brings some much-needed sly wickedness to the occasionally arid action. No stranger to cinematic London heists, Caine laces his smiles with both mischievousness and rage, while Moore is thankfully allowed to mitigate her Disclosure-esque stern ballbreaker routine via a few panicked breakdowns that help make the character seem like more than just a frigid boardroom robot. Alas, efforts to make Quinn a warm, empathetic figure eventually go too far, via the film’s decision to both give her a muted romantic connection with a dull-as-dirt investigator (Lambert Wilson) and, finally, to transform her into a mouthpiece for some ill-defined message about philanthropy.
- Magnolia Pictures
- 106 min
- Michael Radford
- Edward Anderson
- Demi Moore, Michael Caine, Lambert Wilson, Joss Ackland
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