What You Need To Know:
BEING FLYNN is sometimes captivating, but it’s filled with foul language and substance abuse. There’s nothing religious about the story. Also, the last scene shows Nick getting the last word on his father’s more negative qualities. This last scene leaves a sour taste. Despite some compassionate moments, BEING FLYNN seems to be humanist and somewhat politically correct. BEING FLYNN probably won’t attract the average moviegoer.
(HH, PCPC, C, Ho, LLL, VV, SS, N, AAA, DD, MM) Strong humanist, somewhat politically correct worldview without religious content except for a brief mention of one very minor character being a Christian, plus in a couple places movie seems to side against people who say anything negative about homosexuality; 73 obscenities (many “f” words) and four strong profanities, plus talk about lice and man crushes a lice in his hand; some intense violence includes man beats people with a blunt wood object over loud noises in apartment, fighting and screaming, men hold man over high railing in parking structure, men threaten to kill man if he shows up, and implied suicide; depicted fornication in two scenes, implied fornication in another scene, abandoned mother has a series of boyfriends who don’t stay; rear and upper male nudity; alcohol use, drunkenness, and alcoholic father never seems to get over his alcoholism; smoking, cocaine use in one scene, and crack smoking in another, but protagonist manages to overcome his drug addiction; and, lying, exaggeration, dysfunctional family, father abandons wife and son, mental insanity, attempted stealing.
BEING FLYNN is a drama about the relationship between a mentally disturbed alcoholic father who fancies himself a great writer and his son. After years of not seeing his father, the father shows up at a homeless shelter where the son works. Though based on a true story, the movie has a humanist worldview with politically correct content that constantly undermines its too-infrequent positive and uplifting moments.
Robert De Niro stars as Jonathan Flynn, a middle-aged alcoholic who abandoned his wife and son years ago. Jonathan imagines himself “a master storyteller.” He’s been writing a novel for years, a novel which he never seems to finish. Jonathan hasn’t seen his son, Nick, played by Paul Dano, for 18 years. In the meantime, Nick’s mother had a series of boyfriends and worked in low-paying jobs, until she eventually committed suicide.
Nick is a poet. Remembering that one thing his father did teach him was to help other people, Nick takes a job at a homeless shelter. One day, his father, Jonathan, shows up as one of the homeless men. Nick is forced to engage with Jonathan, who has racist attitudes toward African Americans. Also, Jonathan’s stint in prison for check forgery has left him with a bad taste for homosexuals.
Nick tries to cut through his father mental instability. Eventually, however, the strain is too much, and Nick starts becoming addicted to alcohol himself, plus cocaine and crack. When his girlfriend chastises Nick and breaks up with him, will Nick take her advice to get himself into a recovery program.
BEING FLYNN is sometimes captivating, but it’s filled with foul language and substance abuse. Though Nick does get into a recovery program and straighten out his life, there’s nothing religious about his experience. Also, the last scene shows Nick getting the last word on his father’s more negative qualities. In voiceover, viewers hear the father saying that he bequeaths the last word to Nick. However, this last scene left a sour taste in the reviewer’s mind. It was also somewhat politically correct and self-righteous, in that it dealt with the father’s hostility toward black people.
Ultimately, despite some interesting scenes and compassionate moments, BEING FLYNN seems to be a humanist, somewhat politically correct movie. The average filmgoer may very well end up not really liking any of the characters in this intense drama about substance abuse, insanity, art, and family.