‘Being Flynn,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


It’s unfortunate but understandable that they had to change the name of Nick Flynn’s memoir, “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City,” to the more TV-ready title “Being Flynn.” If only they could have made it into an interesting tale, instead of a movie about miserable people making each other miserable.

Adapted and directed by Paul Weitz, “Being Flynn” ostensibly is about Nick (Paul Dano), a would-be writer dealing with alcohol and commitment issues. So he decides he wants to put his life to better use and goes to work at a homeless shelter. And one night, in walks his father, looking for a bed.

His father Jonathan (Robert De Niro) is a larger-then-life character: a self-styled genius writer-without-portfolio, now currently out of work and out of a place to live. But he’s also the ghost of the past that Nick wants to escape.

A self-proclaimed great writer who has done time for check fraud and the like, Jonathan has been the presence whose absence has all but defined Nick’s life. Raised by his deserted mother (Julianne Moore), Nick devoured the stories Jonathan told in long, hand-written accounts of his life sent as letters from a distant father. But as Nick eventually discovered, even when he was present, Jonathan was absent certain basic habits of polite society – like not stealing from your host.

Jonathan missed every significant moment in Nick’s life; now he’s putting his life in Nick’s hands. But he’s, at minimum, a pain in the ass: self-involved, opportunistic, grasping, untrustworthy, alcoholic. And so Nick battles his own warring instincts about his father, even while trying to deal with him on a professional level.

This review continues on my website.

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