When Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) walks into his deadbeat father's living room after not seeing him for eighteen years, Jonathan Flynn (Robert De Niro) greets him by stepping out of the bathtub, baring his ass, and boasting about his manuscript. "Everything I write is a masterpiece," Jonathan continuously tells Nick during Being Flynn, which is based on Nick Flynn's 2004 memoir (originally titled Another Bullshit Night In Suck City. The title switch must have sucked as well). Both father and son are failing at life. Miserably. The latter is aware of this; the former is not. The movie is told from both perspectives - Jonathan spends the film talking about his novel, while Nick writes a novel about his father. Though broken and disgruntled, the men charge through their respective stories, reeking of cheap vodka and poorly made leather jackets.
The script is smart and quick-witted. Little direct dialogue is taken from the book, but the events - particularly the homeless shelter where Nick works - are still vividly captured. As characters, Nick and Jonathan make a great pair of stubborn relatives - both convinced that the other is the reason life blows in "suck city." As actors, Dano and De Niro are good together. Dano's gangly awkwardness is simultaneously comical and natural in contrast to the nonchalant De Niro. But Julianne Moore dominates. She plays Dano's badass single mom, and her performance alone is a reason to see the movie.
Being Flynn was directed by Paul Weitz and hits theaters this week.
(My review is also featured in the March 14, 2012 issue of The Stranger)
Photo credit: www.metrosource.com