Being Flynn

Directed By: Paul Weitz

Starring: Robert De Niro, Paul Dano, Olivia Thirlby, and Julianne Moore

Every single one of us has some homeless person we encounter on a regular basis.  He may be that guy you see on the subway or bus on your way to school.  He could be someone you regularly pass on the streets while walking to work.  He could even be the guy you see in the mirror when you wake up in the morning.  My point is that homelessness is an all too common phenomenon, and you never know who will be sleeping on the streets on any given night.  With that in mind, Paul Weitz's Being Flynn is a film that gives viewers a real taste of what it’s like to be homeless.

Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) is a broke, aspiring poet.  When his girlfriend breaks up with him and kicks him out of her apartment, Nick must find a new place to live and gainful employment.  He finds a room with two guys who have a no family policy.  They don't want Nick bringing unwanted freeloaders into their home.  Luckily for them, Nick's mom Jody (Julianne Moore) is dead, and Nick is estranged from his father Jonathan (Robert De Niro), who like his son is a writer.

While out with his new roommates, Nick meets their friend Denise (Olivia Thirlby).  Nick and Denise quickly become friends with benefits.  Denise even tells him about a job opening at the Harbor Street Inn, a shelter for the homeless.  As Nick gets into his new job, his life is abruptly interrupted by a phone call from his estranged father Jonathan who has been evicted from his apartment and is requesting Nick's help to move out.  While with his son, Jonathan naturally says that he's just between homes and has another place to stay.  He hides the grim truth from his boy.  Nick doesn't realize that he'll be seeing a lot more of his father.  Jonathan's life continues to spiral downward and he finds himself checking into the Harbor Street Inn where Nick works.  Now, this father and son are reunited under the tensest circumstances.

Based on the real Nick Flynn's memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Being Flynn is a somber, sobering tale that gives moviegoers an authentic depiction of homelessness.  Director Paul Weitz pulls no punches in showing all the horrors and hardships of life on the cold streets.  It's a gritty, brutally honest illustration of the desertion and destitution that the homeless face every day.  At the same time, Paul Weitz doesn't go too far with the gloom and doom.  There are plenty of laughs throughout the film that keep the mood lighter than it otherwise would be.  The tone of the movie has exactly the right balance.

The acting in Being Flynn is top notch.  We may not be in the hands of a masterful storyteller in Jonathan Flynn, but we are in the hands of a masterful actor in Robert De Niro.  Playing the homophobic, racist Jonathan Flynn may be the first time De Niro has done some real acting in quite a while.  In recent years, he's been cashing in on his legendary status in Hollywood and mailing in performances.  It's good to see him acting again.  As Nick Flynn, Paul Dano delivers another powerhouse performance that shows just why he's one of the great young talents of his generation.  The There Will Be Blood star pulls out all the stops as the conflicted son Nick.  Olivia Thirlby and Julianne Moore are also quite enjoyable in their supporting roles.

Being Flynn is a moving tale of love, loss, and redemption.  Paul Weitz's powerful film will definitely make you think twice the next time you see that homeless guy on the streets or the subway.  Have some wine coolers during this one.  The film  gets a 0.03% rating.