Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
An early shot in "Being Flynn" shows Robert De Niro behind the wheel of a Yellow Cab, and the ground shifts beneath the movie. To summon up his most iconic role must represent De Niro's faith in this film. I can understand why he felt that much faith in the project, but I'm not sure the film deserves it.
De Niro plays Jonathan Flynn, in his own estimation one of the three greatest American writers (the others: Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger). He claims publishers have been bidding fortunes on his work in progress, but we follow his decline: He loses his apartment, loses his cab and is reduced to hanging out in the well-heated lobbies of buildings.
We learn about him from his son, Nick Flynn (Paul Dano), who also intends to be a great writer; there are two voiceovers in the film, one by Jonathan, one by Nick, although Nick may be writing his father's narration. There is a real Nick Flynn, who first told this story in a 2005 memoir, Another Bull**** Night in Suck City (asterisks mine). Whether his real-life father was a writer I've been unable to determine, but we know his parents were divorced when he was young, his mother killed herself when he was 22, and he actually did go to work in a homeless shelter, where he met his father for the first time when the old man turned up looking for a room for the night.
If you want to be a writer and something like that happens to you, it's inevitable that it will turn up in a book. By all accounts, the memoir is a powerful piece of work. Throughout the film, Nick's subtext is: Am I doomed to be a failure like my dad? Nick tells us his father was mostly absent during his childhood — in prison for bad check writing. His mother (Julianne Moore) explains this to the boy as well as she can. Alcohol is the problem of the father, cocaine becomes the problem of the son. Assuming such a life doesn't kill you, it reads nicely in those little authors' biographies on the insides of dust jackets: The author overcame drug addiction and worked in a homeless shelter before winning a Guggenheim.