Paul Dano's best role so far - in my opinion - was as Eli Sunday in 2007 "There Will Be Blood". He portrayed a preacher who held certain oil rights and played those rights like a great poker hand. That is until Daniel Day Lewis' character bludgeoned him to death at the end.


He can play a good strong character who can stand toe-to-toe with the big boys all the way to the point he gets metaphorically bludgeoned. Such is the case in his latest film "Being Flynn" were he plays Nick Flynn, a guy getting bludgeoned most of his life.


He lives with his mother Jody (Julianne Moore) who, as a single parent is having a tough time raising him, maintaining her job and trying to find some sort of romance in her life. You see his father Jonathan bailed early on to seek his fortune as a writer.

Nick's father (played by Robert DeNiro) and is nothing less than a nutcase; he truly believes he is a classic writer completing a classic novel. His confidence in his own writing is repeated throughout the film in almost every utterance. Hi entire life is based on this masterpiece novel that may never be completed.


It is a fantasy that will lead him to commit a crime that will lead him to spend several years in prison and reduce him to driving a cab in later years - all while still convinced he is a writer.


It is a fantasy that will have him miss most of his son's life and even the death of his former wife - but he feels justified because he writes. To his son, he writes letters; lots of letters. Every letter espousing how he is progressing on this novel - because he is a great writer!


So you would think that the story would change when father and son encounter each other at a New York homeless shelter. Nick is an employee there - compelled to find a job after his own housing situation (and the attraction to his female roommate).

Sure enough, in strolls his father - homeless and disheveled but still proudly boasting his greatness as a writer. The embarrassment, not of his father being homeless, but his father's craziness is a steady beat-down that leads Nick to his own brink of self destruction.


Based on the book Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir by the real Nick Flynn, "Being Flynn" offers an interesting take on the completely dysfunctional family. It is the nuclear family that exploded a long time ago and has remained toxic.


And the toxicity is, in every sense, due to crazy pride and delusion. Delusions of love, delusions of grandeur and delusions of normalcy.


Director Paul Weitz offers a gritty film, with gritty characters played by gritty actors. There is no glamor. This is the smelly underbelly of New York featuring people with serious issues getting helped by people with fairly serious issues. And this puts DeNiro and Dano in elements they are familiar. DeNiro recalls his Travis Bickle role in "Taxi Driver", only crazier and more vulnerable. Dano, flows along with the film getting psychologically bludgeoned.


Considering the increase of schizophrenia cases - especially with homeless people, "Being Flynn" offers an all too real look at our current society. A look many find disagreeable.


"Being Flynn" is a well done film that takes a hard look at not only a dysfunctional relationship but a gritty look at people who suffer from the inability to grasp reality.   -- GEOFF BURTON