Robert De Niro Makes One Hell of a Moron!
Not Just Another Bulls*#t Night In Suck City
By Larissa Rzemienski – Resident Hollywood Psychoanalyst
The movie “Being Flynn” is not just “Another Bulls*#t Night In Suck City,” in fact it is pretty damn suck-tastic. I mean fantastic! Robert De Niro does an incredible job of playing the homeless father, err “sperm donor” to his “son,” played by Paul Dano. Jonathan Flynn (De Niro), father of Nick Flynn (Dano), constantly remarks that he should write a book about his life called, “Memoirs of a Moron” each time he reflects on the sad state that he’s found himself in. In fact De Niro did such an incredible job of playing a homeless person that he was even turned away from the infamous Greenwich Hotel (which he co-owns) because he was not even recognized by the security staff there.
I watched the movie in Scottsdale, Arizona and was shocked to find out that this movie is literally playing in just one theater in this area. As of March 18, 2012 the movie has grossed just over $266,000. This too shocks me! It is an incredible movie with amazing potential. Sure I have a deep respect for the small artsy films, but, damn, this film needs to be making some dough!
The story of Jonathan Flynn and his son, Nick Flynn is an incredible story, and I think that anyone can relate to the many themes in this story. Whether you have gone through any difficult family or personal issues of your own, I can almost guarantee that you will shed a tear. The movie gives a very realistic depiction of homelessness, drug addiction, suicide, criminality, and single parenting. But don’t worry; there is plenty of humor and amazing dialogue to give you a break between the tears.
I could completely relate to Julianne Moore’s character Jody Flynn every time she told her son, “If it were up your ass.” I, too, am a single mom and I have an incredibly humorous, yet enormous potty mouth when I am around my daughter. I am not the type of mom that shields my child from the potty words. Nick Flynn would say, “Mom I can’t find” this or that. Jody Flynn would reply in a cute way, “Well if it were up your ass…” I think that being a single parent almost brings your relationship closer to an adult-adult relationship, rather than an adult-child relationship.
What really stands out for me in this movie is the quick descent into homelessness that the character played by Robert De Niro displays. When I ask my psychology students to explore their biggest fear, one of the fears that pop up often is “running out of money” or “being homeless.” Sure, the creatures are huge fears too, the piranhas, the sharks, spiders, and snakes. But what really seems to stand out is, “I am afraid that I could lose my job and eventually run out of money. I am afraid of becoming homeless.”
When my students talk about their fear of becoming homeless, I let them know that it is also one of my biggest fears. Sure I have college degrees and plenty of money stashed away, but the notion of “losing it all” is always at the back of my mind for some reason. One car accident, one major health problem, or simply mental illness could take away all financial freedoms.
Without completely ruining the story, Jonathan Flynn loses everything when he gets drunk and crashes his taxi. He ends up running into his son, Nick Flynn, when he has to check into the local homeless shelter, The Harbor Street Inn. We all have our own personal views on homelessness, but this movie really helps us all to explore the deeper causes of homelessness.
I am really not surprised that so many of my university psychology students cite “homelessness” as their biggest fear. With the unemployment rate being so high, and so many people living paycheck to paycheck, homelessness could be a single job loss away.
Thankfully I can tell you that this movie ends up with a fairly happy ending. Well at least as happy as you could expect with a crazy, alcoholic father and a deceased mother (Oops I let that one slip didn’t I?) But what should really get you to go see this movie is the incredible acting of Robert De Niro. Every time he started his monologues, I was literally on the edge of my seat!
De Niro’s comedy was priceless as he told the shelter, “Up Yours Harbor Street” or told numerous people to “f#%ing shut up!” But he also did a tremendous job of providing incredible quotes, such as “Life is gathering material,” or explaining the fact that you, “can’t kill somebody with words.” The dialogue especially that of De Niro, is seriously breathtaking. And even when you expect that he is going to be found dead on the streets, is experiencing frostbite, or is drunk off his a*#, he still responds in a sensational manner.
From a psychological perspective, I think this movie hit the nail right on the head. It accurately portrays drug abuse, self-help groups, and homelessness. It also brings about the message that you can’t choose your family, but you have to do the best with what you have.
You can also follow Larissa Rzemienski at YourTango.com
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