A prep school student takes a job chaperoning a
cantankerous blind soldier, and the two become friends.
Scent of a Woman (1992)
Directed by Martin Brest
Written by Bo Goldman
Starring Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, James Rebhorn, Gabrielle Anwar, Bradley Whitford
Remake of 1974's Scent of a Woman
Based on the novel by Giovanni Arpino
Oscar Wins - Best Actor (Al Pacino)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Director,
Best Adapted Screenplay
For years, all I knew about this film was "Hoo-ah!" This was Frank Slade's catchphrase in the film, but I knew it as the slogan for Al Pacino's sudden transformation into a crazy person that happened with this film, Heat, and The Devil's Advocate in the 90's. I had a gut feeling that his Oscar win for Scent of a Woman was a career win and undeserved for this film, so I never bothered watching it. Now that I have, I must say, Pacino's first Oscar should've been for The Godfather: Part II, and his second should've been for Scent of a Woman. This film is lights out entertaining, despite a two and a half hour runtime, and stands on the shoulders of Pacino's fantastic, layered performance as Lt. Col. Frank Slade.
Charlie Simms (O'Donnell, who is fantastic as well. It's a shame Batman & Robin robbed us all of such a promising career) is a prep school student looking for some extra scratch. At the same time, he and fellow student George Willis (Hoffman, in a super early performance) witness an act of vandalism towards the dean. While Charlie befriends and learns from the bitter, angry, but still good-hearted Frank Slade (Pacino), he starts to learn how little the dean cares about Charlie's future and is willing to throw him under the bus. The whole film consists of Frank teaching Charlie how to take control of his own future, while Charlie ends up teaching Frank that despite your mistakes, life is always still worth living. There's a very touching buddy comedy at the heart of this thing.
I didn't think I was going to like Scent of a Woman. It was too long, it was one of Pacino's goofy roles, and it seemed like cliched Oscar bait at the most. But I was wrong. Pacino delivers a painfully honest performance that was well-deserved of an Oscar, and O'Donnell shines alongside him in a film about second chances and stopping once in a while to smell the roses.