Flawless

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San Sebastian International Film Festival

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Not the freshest heist movie ever made, "Flawless" still has a few pleasures to offer, thanks to a well-studied social and political background and to Michael Caine's lovely creation.

There is not a lot of action, though, and the heist itself is not really central to the movie. It's there, but happens without too much suspense or tension. The film really focuses on the relationship between corporate executive Demi Moore's Laura Quinn and Caine's Mr. Hobbs, the janitor.

A charming British atmosphere accompanies the film's 1960s setting, emerging in the well-designed production and costumes. Along with glamorous cast and a current taste for caper movies, following the worldwide successes of the "Ocean's" trilogy, the film should attract interested audiences in Europe with U.S. reaction a bit more uncertain.

Laura, a dedicated female executive who works in the 1960s for the London Diamond Co., has seen the progress of her career impeded by a glass ceiling. Men keep being promoted over her. Hobbs reveals to her that the managers are about to fire her to prevent her from getting credit for her ingenious corporate strategy. He also presents her with the perfect revenge -- to commit an audacious heist at the firm that has mistreated them both.

Social issues are crucial to the plot development. The international political background -- how diamond companies exploit the natural resources of poor countries to make a few men rich -- are mentioned, though not to the extent of, say, "Blood Diamond." Sexual discrimination is clearly in focus, and represents an occasion for contemporary audiences to assess whether things have really evolved since the '60s. Class issues, especially the domination of despicable wealthy men over nice fellows, should appeal to the public. Hobbs is, in fact, an easily identifiable average Joe, who demonstrates that cleverness and human resources can do better than wealth.

To no surprise, Caine is utterly charming and elegant even in the clothes of the janitor. His character really drives the story. Moore (who had played his daughter in 1984 in Stanley Donen's "Blame It on Rio"!) brings another touch of class to the film. She is assisted by the excellent contribution of costume designer Dinah Collin, who did a great job in selecting the perfect accessories for each character.

Shot in Luxembourg, the film makes great use of antiquated and timeless interiors and turns the EU tower into a very credible '60s London diamond company.

Michael Radford's direction is invisible, which seems to be a dominating trait in his career. Who would believe that "1984," "Il postino" and "Flawless" were directed by the same person?

"Flawless" closed the San Sebastian International Film Festival out of competition before opening in Spain this week. Its U.S. release is set for Nov. 30.

FLAWLESS
Magnolia Pictures
Pierce/Williams Entertainment, Delux Prods., Future Films Ltd.
Credits:
Director: Michael Radford
Screenwriter: Edward A. Anderson
Producers: Michael A. Pierce, Mark Williams
Co-producers: Albert Martinez Martin, Jimmy De Brabant, Richard Pierce
Executive producer: Stephen Margolis
Director of photography: Richard Greatrex
Production designer: Sophie Becher
Costume designer: Dinah Collin
Music: Stephen Warbeck
Editor: Peter Boyle
Cast:
Laura Quinn: Demi Moore
Mr. Hobbs: Michael Caine
Finch: Lambert Wilson
Milton Ashtoncroft: Joss Ackland
Running time -- 108 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
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