Directed by Il Postino's Michael Radford, Flawless has all the elements of a slick, old-timey heist movie, including lots of neato early-1960s costumes. However, though I was enamored with shots of Demi Moore's gorgeous charcoal-colored suits against a backdrop of crisp menswear, the film totally drops the ball in terms of developing tension around this old-fashioned diamond heist.
Flawless opens in a modern-day cafe where a young female journalist is interviewing an elderly woman (Demi Moore in old-person make-up) named Laura Quinn. Quinn describes a 1960s London where the young Quinn (Moore) is the lone businesswoman at the fictional London Diamond Co. As you'd expect, an educated, unmarried, ambitious woman at this time is not exactly a welcome addition to the team, and we quickly understand that this character is an outsider. We're then introduced to someone else on the outside looking in: Mr. Hobbs (Michael Caine), the company janitor who sees Quinn as a potential accomplice to stealing the company's diamonds.
To read where I think this good-looking film falls short, read more
For Quinn, being the lone female in this boys' club means being passed over for promotions and getting hit on by married men on a constant basis, and to make matters worse, she soon finds out that she's probably going to get fired. So, she's none too pleased with the London Diamond Co. Hobbes, too, has his motives for taking the company down, though they're not entirely clear which lends the plot a little mystery. Therefore, the "how" they take the diamonds isn't very exciting and the film is far more concerned with the "why."
The problem is, nothing is unraveled in a way that would lend adequate suspense to the plot. Also, there's a social conscience to the film (focusing on both global issues and women in the workplace), but it's so awkwardly woven into the story, it's hard to feel anything about these issues. For example, protest signs show up early on, indicating that the London Diamond Co. is a shady company that may deal in the blood diamond trade, but this is never really explored.
The bright spots in the film for me were charming moments from the talented Caine, and the icy-cool feel of the film. Everything from the click-clacks of Quinn's heels on the marble floor of the corporation to observing the tidy way people smoked back then is captivating to watch. In the end, though, all the predictable plot lines wrap themselves up neatly and we're asked to endure an ending so blunt in its message, it could be mistaken for a UNICEF commercial. The clumsy handling of social issues combined with a complete lack of interest around the heist itself makes the whole experience forgettable.
In fact, knowing what the filmmakers were attempting to pull off here made me realize that Spike Lee already did so, and brilliantly in Inside Man. If you're looking for a heist film with a heart, you should check out that movie instead.
Photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures