Written and directed by Paul Weitz (American Dreamz), Being Flynn is an adaptation of Nick Flynn's 2004 memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which explored the author's pivotal experience working at the Boston homeless shelter where his down-and-out dad Jonathan was a frequent guest. In the movie, Paul Dano and Robert De Niro play hipster-fuckup son and bigoted ex-con prodigal father. De Niro might as well be wearing a mirrored sandwich board in his every scene opposite Dano, as the theatrics of his dissolving mental state are so blatantly a device to force Nick to confront his own demons and fears (his mom's suicide, his escalating addictions, his inability to commit to either women nor career) by looking at himself reflected in his father. This subtext is turned into text in a climactic confrontation scene: "You are me! I made you!" Jonathan yells at Nick. The son's response? "No, I'm not!" Being Flynn is as overedited as your standard contemporary shoot-em-up. What the actors are unable to get across emotionally (which is a lot; Dano and De Niro, both of them all big, actorly tics, often seem like they were filmed in different rooms), Weitz hammers home via near-constant music. A welcome-to-the-shelter montage riding along on a breezy source cue? Uh, sure, OK. A major character's suicide dramatized via what amounts to a Badly Drawn Boy music video? Yikes.
De Niro is in a room of his own.
Opens Fri., March 16 at Harvard Exit. Rated R. 102 minutes.