Laura Quinn (Demi Moore) is a rarity for 1960. She is a Vice President with the world's largest diamond wholesaler, based in London. She watches in frustration as all of her male co-workers are promoted around her, leaving her with the same responsibilities, the same office, the same schedule. She comes in early every day and leaves last every night, yet her boss Sir Milton Ashtoncroft (Joss Ackland) doesn't seem to notice. Ashtoncroft is a shady character at best, but Quinn realizes she will never be able to get a comparable job anywhere else. Mr. Hobbs (Michael Caine), one of the many janitors, has worked for the same company for years. In his nightly rounds, he has made observations and approaches Ms. Quinn with an idea. He could, with her assistance, steal a small handful of diamonds from the company vault, enough to set them each up for a long time. They could each escape the lives they are trapped in. Quinn is dubious but Mr. Hobbs shows her how he would do it, and she is on board. But it looks like Mr. Hobbs has other ideas and other motives.
"Flawless", directed by Michael Radford ("Il Postino") is an interesting, overlooked film. At it's heart, "Flawless" is a caper film "based on a true story", but it presents so many other ideas and themes, making it more complex and watch able.
Michael Caine is, as always, great. Mr. Hobbs is the kindly old man you see hobbling along, happy with his place in life, always eager and willing to do his job. But as we learn more and more about him, we see there are many other levels to his character. Caine is a great actor, a subtle actor and he reveals these layers slowly making them more believable and surprising. It isn't Caine's best performance ever, but Mr. Hobbs is immensely watch able.
Demi Moore is also good as Laura Quinn, an American woman working for an international firm in London in 1960. She realizes how hard she has to work to maintain this position, so she comes to work early and leaves late, always checking in with security as she does so. But what does this get her? A lot of lonely nights at her flat, eating dinner alone. As the story progresses, we see Quinn's aggravation with her situation, but because she has to still maintain her persona, she can't become too emotional or upset. This becomes an asset to their plan.
And when the diamonds are stolen, the company calls in an investigator, Finch (Lambert Wilson). Perhaps the best thing about "Flawless" is that everyone is pretty smart; Mr. Hobbs comes up with the plan, Quinn contributes certain qualities and Finch begins to suspect certain people as he tries to figure out how the robbery was accomplished.
Michael Radford, who gained a lot of attention with "Il Postino", has struggled since, releasing a series of films that were either critically maligned, quickly forgotten by the public, or both. Unfortunately, "Flawless" won't change his fortunes, but it is a good film.
As the story and the heist proceed, he uses the canvas as a way to introduce many other themes, helping to establish the time and setting for the film. The company Quinn and Hobbs work for is a huge diamond collective based in Botswana. In addition to the heist, the company officers have to handle the press who are circling because of the daily protests about the company's involvement with blood diamonds. Laura Quinn recognizes she is a rarity; a female executive at a large corporation in London, and an American woman at that. So this causes her to be a bit tentative and reluctant to join Hobbs plan. Instead, she would rather continue trying to work hard; continue trying to beat at the glass ceiling. As the story unfolds, and she begins to realize how her male co-workers treat her, she knows she will never rise above her current situation.
The story takes some unexpected turns because Hobbs and Quinn aren't honest with one another. And this provides a mild level of excitement. When we finally learn the motive behind the robbery, another theme is introduced.
If this film is, as stated, "based on a true story", it is a story that far ahead of its time. It is for this reason that I have to wonder how much of this story is based on real events. I suspect not much. But "Flawless" is a pleasant diversion and a great film to watch on DVD.