A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this '60s-set heist drama is relatively tame from a content perspective (aside from the nonstop smoking and drinking meant to evoke the earlier era), it probably won't interest most kids. Its message is a double-edged sword: Sexism and classism are vanquished ... through criminal activity. There's also extensive discussion of whether Moore's character is sacrificing "happiness" (a relationship, children, etc.) in order to succeed at business, as well as a lot of material about the dirty business of pretty things -- how diamonds are mined by the poor and sold to the rich. That said, the movie has virtually no sexual content, and strong language is also infrequent.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In present-day London, a young reporter interviews Laura Quinn (Demi Moore) about her experience as a female executive during the '60s in the male-dominated world of diamond sales and acquisitions. Laura puts a diamond the size of a chicken egg on the table; the movie then flashes back to the past, where her movement up the corporate ladder is stalled due to her gender -- and where friendly janitor Mr. Hobbs (Michael Caine) makes an unusual proposition. He suggests combining Laura's position and privilege with his access to the building -- with the aim of taking just a few diamonds from the basement storage vaults. It's a simple plan ... but, of course, things don't go as planned.
Is it any good?
FLAWLESS is a perfectly fine caper film that's undermined by the framing device and moral lesson surrounding it. Moore's clumsy old-age make-up is distracting, and the film's ultimate message feels tacked on and superfluous. The best thing in the film is Caine; who could have imagined that one of the screen's biggest hams would have turned into such a subtle, sly old pro late in his career? Moore is also good -- in the '60s scenes, Laura has a nice mix of toughness and vulnerability, and while there's a hint of romance in the air when handsome investigator Mr. Finch (Lambert Wilson) asks questions about the theft, Moore gets to be defined by who she is, not by the men around her.
Director Michael Radford shoots the heist material with cool competence; making it even more of a shame that he didn't cut screenwriter Edward A. Anderson's clumsy, clunky modern-day sequences that book-end the retro cool of Moore and Caine's unlikely (and unstable) partnership in crime. The film's smoke-wreathed, tweed-clad style looks great, but the best reason to see Flawless is ultimately Caine's top-notch work as Hobbs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the curious logic of many heist films -- can, in fact, two wrongs ever make a right? Families can also discuss sexism in the workplace, past and present, as well as questions of class, capitalism, and consumerism (think of the movie as a mix of 9 to 5 and Oceans Eleven, set in '60s London). Is it right that Hobbs is largely invisible to his employers? Or that Laura is routinely passed over for promotion? Also, why is it that caper/heist films -- which usually involve detailed, intricate schemes to steal -- are so engaging and popular?