Skip to main content

Movie Critic Review: Scent Of A Woman (1992)

(Makers of men, Creators of leaders. 
Be careful what kind of leaders you're producing here) 

Colonel Slade addressing the school meeting

After years of proving his worth, the “Academy” decided to acknowledge the glorious
and steadfast performance of actor and great impersonator Al Pacino.
He finally, in 1992, got the Oscar. Hoo Wah!
But Al Pacino has been, at any given time in his acting career, deserving of the
highest regard. His cinematic presence has been God-fathered by the likes of
Marlon Brando and he "Shylocked" his way in the “Heat” of the race to the top
with hardly any "Scarface"!

In this flick Pacino is the blind retired officer Frank Slade receiving help from
a young student who needed to earn some money. As if not quite inundated by
his experience with suicidal Slade who was struggling with his personal calamity
and his excesses, the student Charlie (Chris O'Donnell) gets involved as a witness
in a prank that aimed at humiliating the school headmaster but refuses to identify
the wrong-doers in return for a bribe that any one short of integrity would have
accepted. This solid moral stance from the young man ignites the officer’s angry
recesses into a volcanic contempt of corruption and lack of integrity which he
spills in front of the the very institution (preparatory school) that, according to
him, is supposed to instill in its students the virtues of true leadership.
The episode of the speech at school stands as one of the two most singular instances
of superb acting by Al Pacino.
The other episode is the tango scene for which   
(Carlos Gardel) wrote the song (Por Una Cabeza)
that is probably more intoxicating than the scent of a woman!
The keywords one is able to derive from the ex-officer’s
grand speech are ironically at variance with the spirit in
which they were delivered. There is a fleeting air of
vulgarity in a speech outlining the qualities of leaders
and reiterating the meaning of courage, integrity and choice, "the stuff leaders should be made of"!
There is a will to obscenity not so much in his words than in the tone of his voice. And of course he uses the F word in a school setting which is probably one of his ways of expressing contempt.
Then there is this rage inside him and the unsettling
look in his unseeing eyes! Really overwhelming acting.
Yet, the storyline of the movie is such a commonplace piece of storytelling (actually it narrowly escapes the rhetoric of morality) but the novelist (Giovanni Arpino) and subsequently the screen writer (Bo Goldman) cleverly enlivened it by investing on the intensity of the life experience of this army officer who was thrown into retirement by an accident in which he lost his eyesight.  

The bitterness of this experience punctuated with rage his deeply motivated and highly memorable speech in defence of his young
 “sitter” who refuses to “snitch” on the perpetrators of the
school incident.
I rate this movie at 8.5 out of 10 for besides Al Pacino's unforgetable performance as a blind man, the young actor Chris O'Donnell renders his part in a satisfactory way.
Of note also is the performance of James Rebhorn and Gabreille
Anwar in her short but beautiful appearance with the tango project.
Worthy of mention is the fact that this movie is a remake
although as a melodrama! The same Italian novel was previously made into a comedy (1974) which starred the no-less impressive Italian actor Vittorio Gassman.
I have expressed my concern hereabout film remakes as a probable indicator of a
decline in the quest for new original movie projects. That being said, I do not rule out marketing influence as a driving force.
Special thanks to Fatih Mirghani, Tokyo.
Scent Of A Woman (157 min, color)
Cast: Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, James Rebhorn, Gabrielle Anwar.
Director: Martin Brest
Screenplay: Bo Goldman
Music Score: Thomas Newman.
Earnings: 170 million.

Click To Buy This Movie From Amazon:


  1. I hadn't heard about this until you posted! Thanks, I am going to check it out, and tell you what I think!

  2. I watched this movie before but after reading your review I will watch it again with a different point of view AND with different eyes. Thanks


  3. Anonymous 27 October 2011 09:41
    I love your comment. Could you show me how to get 'different eyes'? I need some!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

MovieGlobe: Japan's Version of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet (2007) JapanOriginal Article by: Fateh Mirghani-Japan

I have just finished watching the masterpiece of Shakespeare” Romeo and Juliet “in its Japanese version.
The quality of the movie is great and the soundtrack, injected with a little Japanese folklore music, has given it a sensational dimension and Eastern fascination!
Basically, the theme of the movie remains the same as the original play, and that has been a particular Japanese notion in dealing with other nations’ cultural products. Part of the reason may lay in Japan's sensitivity to other nations’cultural products- given the long standing historical disputes with its neighbours, and part of it may lay in a fierce sense of homogeneity that has come to characterize Japan as an island nation-state since time immemorial. Thus the Japanese, unlike the Americans, don’t seem to have the temerity to ‘Japanize’ others’ cultural stuff. The movie “Renaissance man”  can be cited as an example of American boldness. The …

Thursday Evening

Short Story by Ali Elmak* Translated by MM
Getting off the tram, he slipped. Was it the right or the left foot that skidded? It did not matter!  All that mattered really, all that he cared for at that hour, at that moment, was that he fell and soiled his pants. those characteristically beautiful white pants which he had preserved for Thursday evenings; for the soiree gatherings which started by hanging around in the market; loitering for short or long periods; then to the cinema house; any film and peace be upon him. Then, was this bad luck or what? Did he really need to take the tram for such a short distance? “That was a fair reward for your laziness” he said to himself. As for those pants, they were turned into a dusty colored thing. The more he shook those tiny particles off, the closer they became attached to the pants. Oh what a gloomy evening for you!  "Is this what concerned you?" thought he.

The posters of Alan Ladd and Van Heflin still stood their, at the cinema entrance.…

Movie Critic Review: Zorba The Greek (1964)

" All right, we go outside where God can see us better." Alexis Zorba "God has a very big heart but there is one sin he will not forgive; [slaps table] if a woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go. I know because a very wise old Turk told me." Alexis Zorba

Zorba (Anthony Quinn) with a lascivious look lays the gentle order, 'Two beds Madam. Without bugs!' Mme Hortense defiantly tilts her head and answers proudly, 'Mme has not THE bugs!'

The bookish intellectual Basil  (Alan Bates) who has appeared unaffected by the collective vertigo experienced on the boat taking them to Crete, did not seem interested in this outward and stimulated first-time exchange between his newly-found companion, a robust natural philosopher named Alexis Zorbas and this old lady who rushed  to offer them her hospitality services in her own (Marriot) of a dilapidated house on this island of pathos and the poor. Mme Hortense then treats the c…