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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Scent of a Woman (1992)



Reviews and Comments

I've heard it said of personal tastes that one likes what one likes and makes up the reasons for it afterwards. I don't think this is universally true; normally when I like or dislike something, I know why right then. If I don't, but later, through thought, come up with something, who's to say I'm not discovering, rather than inventing, the reason?

But there is probably some truth to the statement, and here's one case where it might be right. I did not like Scent of a Woman, but as much as I've thought about why, I can't come up with a reason that doesn't feel like a fabricated explanation. Consequently, I've given the movie the benefit of the doubt with my rating, because it does hold up as a character drama.

The story is about a student (Chris O'Donnell) who takes a temporary job as an aide to a blind man (Al Pacino) and winds up with more than he bargained for. Pacino is an initially detestable man, and I admired the way the film eventually bought us sympathy for him without changing the character so much as helping us to understand him better. Pacino is terrific, although the Oscar he won for it was more deserved by any of half a dozen of his less over-the-top performances. As for O'Donnell, I didn't so much admire him as the screenplay's handling of the character. I liked the resolutions to both character arcs, too.

But, I dunno. So much of the movie is just plain unlikeable. Maybe I just would have preferred the characters to reach the end of the movie via a different and quicker route, such as a few good slaps apiece.