review for Scent of a Woman on AllMovie

Scent of a Woman (1992)
by Mike DiBella review

Featuring a triumphant performance from the king of braggadocio, Al Pacino, Martin Brest's comedy-inflected drama is a minor masterpiece of cinematic storytelling. Chris O'Donnell's auspicious debut as a bright-eyed high schooler works in remarkable harmony with Pacino's portrayal the blind, irritable, foul-mouthed, former military man O'Donnell is supposed to look after. The result is a magnificent and irresistible narrative, and although it runs a little long, a few minutes of fidgeting are well worth the viewer's time, for this film delivers the goods. Pacino's performance is arguably his best since Scarface, combining his usual macho swaggering with an almost pathetic undertone. The actor adds a very physical aspect to his enduring and memorable performance, mimicking the mannerisms of a blind man convincingly. His irascible military man character is eruptively funny, sad, twisted, and paternal all at the same time. O'Donnell provides Pacino with a perfect foil, inflecting his prep schoolboy characterization with growing admiration for his seemingly unbearable charge. The film also features a young Phillip Seymour Hoffman, a modern-day mainstay whose credits include Happiness, Magnolia and Almost Famous. Bo Goldman's sensational script is adapted adroitly by Brest, and, coupled with fine acting, makes for a simply remarkable film.