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"Being Flynn" Review

Updated on July 23, 2014
Paul Dana and Robert DeNiro, Being Flynn
Paul Dana and Robert DeNiro, Being Flynn
Nick Flynn's mother, Julianne Moore
Nick Flynn's mother, Julianne Moore
Nick Flynn's Girlfriend Olivia Thirlby
Nick Flynn's Girlfriend Olivia Thirlby

"Being Flynn"

Being Flynn is a downer, a hard movie to watch. It's based on an autobiographical memoir entitled Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn about the relationship between himself and his alcoholic, grandiose father, Jonathan Flynn, and his struggle to find his own identity separate from his father. Robert De Niro plays the father who abandons his wife, Julianne Moore and newborn son, Nick, played by Paul Dana. Jonathan Flynn is narcissistic to the point of being delusional. He believes he is a great writer as good as Hemingway and Salinger. He has no contact with his son and wife except for letters to his son bragging about his imaginary success as a writer. Nick saves the letters but rarely bothers to read them. Jonathan Flynn ekes out a living as a NY City taxi driver, scoring an occasional woman passenger.

Nick Flynn has his own problems with drugs and alcohol, especially after his mother shoots herself after reading an unfinished story in which Nick tells how hard growing up without a father and with a mother who worked two jobs and had a succession of boy friends. Nick is an unhappy character who has trouble holding a job for long. He meets a nice girl who helps him get a job at Harbor Place, a shelter for homeless men. Not long after Nick starts work at the shelter, who shows up but his father who lost his cab driver's license as a result of falling asleep at the wheel and running into a another car after nipping on a pint of vodka throughout the evening. Nick is embarrassed at having his father at the shelter. Soon the father causes trouble with other residents at the shelter and is banned for two months. He has no place to go and ends up back on the street sleeping on grates and park benches. Not long after, Nick's girl friend dumps him because of his drug and alcohol habit.

The movie reminds me of Eugene O'Neill's Iceman Cometh in that the characters are nearly all down-and-outers who are deluding themselves into believing that they are soon going to stop drinking and proceed to have a successful career. De Niro may get an Oscar nomination for his masterful performance as the delusionary Jonathan Flynn. Paul Dana, whose face reminds me of a young Liam Neeson, did a credible job playing De Niro's unhappy, screwed up son. Julianne Moore did her usual fine job as Nick's mother until she committs suicide. By now you can see why I call the movie a downer and hesitate to recommend it to anyone other than a social worker or psychiatrist.

The script was written by the movie's director, Paul Weitz based on Nick Flynn's autobiographical memoir. Flynn collaborated with Weitz on the script and the movie.


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    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Yes, and I saw the play in Boston at the Charles Street Playhouse around 1959. Both were quite memorable.

    • Wizard Of Whimsy profile image

      Wizard Of Whimsy 

      7 years ago from The Sapphire City

      Thanks again, Ralph. I recall making the post, but I don't see it here.

      Did you happen to see the "Iceman" film version with Robert Ryan and Jeff Bridges? Worth renting, IMHO.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Tnx for the comments. Wiz, "The Iceman" is one of the greatest American plays along with "Death of a Salesman," "Glengarry, Glenn Ross," and almost any of Tennessee Williams's plays.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Sounds like my kind of film. Thanks.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 

      7 years ago

      Wow, this sounds like a really sad movie from the way you described it. i'm not sure i'll get a chance to see it though, but i have to say i am intrigued though based on your review. anyway, thanks for the heads up.

    • profile image

      H R Rawls 

      7 years ago

      I was kinda thinking about see this, but now IO'm definitely staying away. There's enough downers in real life.

      Go see The Iron Lady and Game Changer if you want to see strong performances by the "weaker" sex. Although the latter is a bit of a downer for the GOP.


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