Single female executive, Laura Quinn (Demi Moore), working for the powerful global company London Diamond is constantly passed over for promotion in favour of inadequate male colleagues: after all, this is the Sixties. Enter cheery and perceptive old codger and night-cleaner Hobbs (Michael Caine) who reaches across the earnings gap to help the femme fatale.
Hobbs finds out that Quinn is going to be fired for having a remarkable idea. Hoping that she will be furious and wanting to get even with the company he invites her into a plot to steal diamonds from the company vault. He convinces her that after all these years polishing floors he understands the how the company works and (wink, wink) nobody would suspect the cleaner.
What follows is a dull and tedious heist, which keeps your eyes flicking towards your watch and raises more stifled sniggers for cheap lines and clichd gestures than any tension or nerves. Even with a major change in the pairs original plan and insurance companies harrumphing into the fray, two limp twists do not a fine caper make.
Director Michael Radford (Merchant of Venice) sadly invests little effort in creating empathy with the leads. Consequently, its difficult to care about whether they succeed or not. But this isnt for lack of trying: in building the history and personality for Quinn and Hobbs Radford grossly overcompensates. Hobbs history and motive is such a sappy tale that tries to tug the heartstrings with barely stomachable sentimentality. Above that even is the unnecessary and irritating interview with Quinn as an old woman that starts the whole account. It also transpires that she has a frankly repellently earnest post-theft life.
On the comparative upside when Radford is more playful, sending up the melodrama, he draws the audience in and for a fleeting imaginative minute the film promises to be engaging. One wishes he spent more time pouring through of Quinns dream sequences, participating in Quinns fantastical inner monologue, getting closer to her character, being personal instead of aloof and afar.
Another upside is the great credit due to the design department. Quinns house, costume, workplace are all gorgeous. Lush, luxurious texture, a perfect colour palette fill the screen, the carpets and curtains, furniture and furnishings. Even in the briefest scene featuring her standalone bathtub, the ash trays and humble soap dish are exquisitely presented and precise. It almost makes up for the rather stale and stodgy performance.
As our newly appointed cockney-in-chief Caine’s performance looks like hes taking a walking detour in the park as he chortles his way to the bank. Be glad there is the inimitable twinkle in his eye as otherwise there are serious doubts over what he adds to the role at all. Demi is strong. She’s an engaging figure despite the flop script.
Flawless doesnt provide enough focus on the jewels, the robbery or any of the people involved to warrant a cinema viewing. Wait for the DVD and in the meantime cuddle up with Breakfast at Tiffanys or veg out with The Italian Job. Both promise time better spent and sweeter moments stolen.
Flawless is best described as wishful thinking. It’s about as valuable as broken glass.