On the off chance that movie viewers have been wondering where one of the 1990’s top female cinema draws, Demi Moore, has been hiding out (she’s earned only one top billing, Half Light, 2006, in the last ten years), look no more. She’s safe – trying not to get caught breaking into same. Assuming the identity of Oxford-educated Laura Quinn in her latest leading feature, Flawless, the former brat-packer is schlepping back and forth, working a 9-5’er abroad.
On the upside, no one’s wondering the whereabouts of her more seasoned counterpart, Michael Caine. Eisenhower was the U.S. president when the Englishman began acting in the mid 1950’s. A lot has happened in the world — outside of camera’s view — since Caine stepped before it for the first of his 140-plus TV show and feature film appearances. Not the least of which is the professional fluidness with which he now dependably delivers the thespian equivalent of a bases loaded single each time he takes a turn at bat. Reminiscent of Gene Hackman and Samuel Jackson, Caine may not always appear in winning productions, but far more often than not, he delivers.
At 38-years-old, the unmarried Quinn (Moore) works for the London Diamond Corporation in titular city, the global distributor for the world’s diamond supply. In the company’s employ for 15 years, she’s its first, and only, female manager. Quinn has appreciated the risky gender-pioneering investment the corporation’s made in her, almost as much as hers in it. Not anymore. Quinn’s been passed over five times in three years for promotions of men obviously less qualified. It’s happened again. Even if it is only 1960, it’s time for this upwardly mobile woman to move up, or move on.
Mr. Hobbs (Caine) is London Diamond’s fixture janitor. A disabled man with a slight gimp in his gait, the widower looks to be at the end of his profession – if you can even call it that. Career choices be damned, this caretaker is going to do just that.
When Hobbs tactically pitches his outlandish plan to Ms. Quinn to separate London Diamond from its inventory, he banks on finding a sympathetic partner. He just might, as Quinn’s one-time loyalty has given way to bitterness. When the crafty Hobbs let’s Quinn in on a not so insignificant little secret — the company plans to terminate her employment — she realizes her options are indeed finite. If she can’t break through the glass ceiling through conventional hard work and dedication, her only remaining resource may be to illicitly cut through it with the London Diamond’s namesakes in hand. Partners primed, the job is on.
With the proverbial bases “juiced,” it's now merely a matter of execution. Can Moore and Caine pair up to create a gem? Serviceable is a more apt description. Flawless is the quintessential heist movie, replete with a David vs. Goliath match up, corporate sleaziness, and personal motive. (“Just money? Nothing important ever is.”)
The production excels in a couple of facets, those being appearance and sound. The supporting cast (Lambert Wilson as Finch, Derren Nesbitt as Sinclair) capably establishes the elegance the movie so naturally wants to create, with gentlemen wearing well-tailored suits (London Diamond is strictly a man’s world), distinguished looking (and ever-present) cigarette smoking, and sophisticated sounding English accents. In the latter’s case, Moore’s diluted British enunciation is explained away be subtly pointing out that Quinn is American born. Intentional or not, this biographical detail translates into giving Moore license to regrettably alternate between accents at her held-up leisure.
British director Michael Radford (The Merchant of Venice, 2004) composes a period piece that’s sufficiently atmospheric. Filmed in flat looking blues, grays, and browns, the goings on have a regal look. Granted, it's not; it feels suspiciously like a remake of a film from the era it depicts. All the same, it pays homage to the debonair mannerisms of the original Ocean’s Eleven (1960) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), and the modern stealthy heist-iness of each film’s respective remake, The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) and Ocean’s Eleven (2001).
The risk of the robbery. The reward of getting away with it. Through it all, be it Flawless’ Demi Moore, or in the erstwhile persons of Angie Dickinson, Faye Dunaway, Julia Roberts, and Rene Russo, one woman’s steely capacity inside a man’s world.