Now Playing: De Niro’s Best Work in Years

Even though we never once seen him pick up a pen, Robert De Niro’s possibly crazy character in ‘Being Flynn’ is always talking about a book he’s writing – not just any book, but a masterpiece. As I sat watching the movie, I realized that ‘Being Flynn’ functions on the same high level as a book. I haven’t read the memoir upon which the movie is based, ‘Another Bullshit Night in Suck City’, but if the storytelling is at all like the film, then it’s got “masterpiece” written all over it.

Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) is an aspiring writer who’s trying to get his life together. His life thus far hasn’t been great. He was raised by his single mother (Julianne Moore), who worked two jobs just to give him a decent life that might make up for his let-down absentee father. Just as Nick meets a promising new girl, Denise (Olivia Thirlby), and things move upward, his strange father Jonathan (Robert De Niro), whom he hasn’t seen in 18 years, manipulates his way back into Nick’s life. With his mother having passed away several years earlier, Nick feels alone and, although he doesn’t want to trust this proven liar, he can’t help but grab onto this thread of hope.

Of course, Jonathan’s presence in Nick’s life is fleeting, but Nick is all right with that because Denise has given him something much better – an inspiring job. Denise works at a New York City homeless shelter. Giving empathetic service has put her on the right track in life, and it quickly does the same for Nick. He becomes a humbler, better person working with the needy, and this strengthens the relationship he has with Denise. Yet all of that changes when Jonathan again forces his way into Nick’s life, by becoming a regular “guest” at the shelter. What once taught Nick humility becomes humiliating, as Denise and all of their co-workers discover the embarrassing fact that Nick’s father is a homeless man with mental problems. Where Nick was rapidly progressing, this new development causes him to sink lower than ever before.

‘Being Flynn’ offers the big screen redemption that Robert De Niro has needed for years, as well as redemption for his ‘Little Fockers‘ director Paul Weitz. Paul Dano also gives another fantastic performance in this human tale. It’s an emotionally-charged and very well made film.

‘Being Flynn’ is set to expand its limited release throughout March.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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