Flawless (1999)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Robert DeNiro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Miller, Chris Bauer
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

Walter Koontz (Robert DeNiro) is an ex-cop and a hero at that. Now retired he’s working as a security guard and with the little money he makes, he manages to keep his head above water. He is living in a run-down New York neighborhood in an apartment building that is housing a range of very eccentric characters, including Rusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a drag queen who makes his money as a singer and comedian.

Through his window, Walter observes an assault on one of his neighbors and runs to help the young woman. But as he races up the stairs he suffers a stroke that leaves him paralyzed on his right side. After returning to his home he is a broken man, weak, intimidated and without hope, brooding in his little apartment.
One of his therapists suggests to take singing lessons so Walter could get the better of his speech impediment that is a result of the stroke, and since he is unable and unwilling to leave the house, he begins to talk to Rusty, asking him to coach his voice. The two men who hate each, other slowly begin an emotional tour-de-force, finding themselves and accepting each other, while a friendship and bond grows between them.

The DVD MGM Home Entertainment is presenting here features a beautiful and highly detailed transfer that is enhanced for 16×9 television sets. Virtually free of defects, the transfer is clean and mostly without grain, and nicely restores the atmospheric camera work and lighting of the movie. Colors are strong and finely delineated without over-saturation or bleeding. Much of the film’s cinematography is dark and ominous, and the blacks on this DVD are deep without losing detail, giving the movie a rather somber look at times, while the stark, contrasting colors highlight the lively scenes of the story. There are no distracting compression artifacts evident on this disc.

The disc contains a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track in English and a Spanish Dolby Surround track. The audio is well integrated and dialogues are always understandable. The mix is balanced and makes good use of the split surrounds of the 5.1 format. Given the nature of the movie, the sound is also used to help emphasis the bleak world of Walter and his isolation. Unaggressive, the soundtrack creates an enveloping atmosphere that is ever so subtle, but nonetheless extremely effective. The sound effects support the images, which in turn are emotionally embellished by Bruce Roberts’ score.

’Flawless’ is a great movie that reminds us that we all are quite similar, no matter how different we may appear on the outside. A study in humanity, compassion and tolerance, ’Flawless’ is a charming movie and MGM Home Entertainment’s DVD is as flawless as the movie itself.