Scent of a Woman, directed by Martin Brest in 1992, is a remake of the 1974 Italian film of the same name, based on the novel Dark and Honey by the writer Giovanni Arpino.
Crossing of destinies
The film begins with episodes dedicated to student life. A poor student of a prestigious school, Charles Simms, finds himself in a difficult alteration. The director knows that he has witnessed the evil prank of fellow practitioners and demands to be named. The reward for betrayal is quite high – a recommendation for university admission.
Struggling internally, Charlie embarks on a long weekend that includes Thanksgiving. While his friends are leaving on vacation, a 17-year-old boy decides to earn extra money: a married couple asks him to sit with a relative – a former military man who has lost his sight.
Not to say that their meeting was cloudless. Frank Slade meets Charlie extremely unfriendly, seeing in him only an ignorant recruit who does not understand anything in life.
“I know where your body is. I’m looking for at least some signs of your intelligence “
In turn, the modest young man is shocked by the cynical statements of the lieutenant colonel, who constantly drinks whiskey. Charles even thinks to refuse this offer, but feeling an urgent need for money, he is forced to agree.
Change of plans
According to the agreement, Charlie was supposed to take care of the colonel, staying in his house. But as soon as the relatives left the yard, Frank announced to Charlie about his long-cherished plans.
The lieutenant colonel (he asks to call himself “Colonel”) intends to fly to New York in order to “have a full fun” there: he wants to stay in a luxury hotel, treat himself to excellent food, spend the night with a gorgeous woman …
The student does not want to leave the city at all, but out of a sense of responsibility, he agrees to go with Slade to New York, intending to immediately go back.
Stay in New York
Once in a big city, Charles realizes that the lieutenant colonel’s plans are not unfounded. They stop at the Waldorf-Astoria and then head in a chic limousine to a fine restaurant. Feeling that his young assistant is depressed, Frank forces him to tell about a story that happened in college. The former military man cynically, but definitely expresses his opinion: if Charlie wants to keep his “place in the sun”, he will have to surrender his comrades.
“You are very fond of women, Colonel. ―Oh, more than anything. And only then, far in second place, – Ferrari … “
Charlie and Slade go to Frank’s brother to celebrate Thanksgiving at the dinner table. However, the former officer does not find understanding: his manners and speech are knocked out of the decorous routine of a well-bred family, moreover, Slade deliberately provokes the assembled audience.
Women and tango
The film’s culminating scene is a dance that critics call “the best tango in the history of cinema” due to the intensity of feelings. Returning from relatives, the friends go to a bar, where Charlie draws attention to an attractive girl. This is instantly caught by Frank, who invites the young man to get to know her. Having struck up a conversation, the military offers the beauty to teach her to dance tango.
This dance, brilliantly performed by Al Pacino and Gabriel Anwar, can be considered a plug-in novella telling a love story:
- At first, partners feel insecure and alienated.
- Then there is “grinding” to each other, and they begin to move to the beat, skillfully making “pa”.
- Finally, the dance reaches its climax – the faces of the girl and the retired soldier bloom, and their dance begins to sparkle with passion.
The delayed companion of the girl enters the hall – and she is forced to leave with him, throwing fervent glances in the direction of Frank.
“There are no mistakes in tango, Donna. This is not life. It’s simple, that’s the greatness of tango. If you made a mistake, dance on, and that’s it. “
It seems that a romance may begin between them … But the lieutenant colonel prefers a more prosaic version, going to the dear priestess of love.
Ferrari and the secret plan
The next morning, Charlie remembers Slade’s words. To his horror, he actually sees the gun on him. To distract him, the young man decides to take a ride in a Ferrari. They go to a car dealership, where they take the car for a test drive.
First, Charles himself drives the car, then a retired military man who has lost his sight gets behind the wheel. He sets up a frantic race, which is interrupted only by the intervention of a policeman. Fortunately, the matter goes without consequences, since the guardian of order did not notice the colonel’s illness.
Returning home, Slade, on a far-fetched pretext, kicks Charlie out of the room. However, the latter returns ahead of time and sees a colonel dressed in full dress with a weapon in his hands.
“You have a wholeness in you, Charlie. I don’t know whether to shoot you or adopt you. ”
Charlie begins to dissuade the lieutenant colonel. He doesn’t leave, even when Slade promises to shoot him too. In the end, the young man can not stand it – he rushes, trying to take away the pistol.
His desperate attempts make an impression on Frank, because they testify to the determination and moral strength of the young man. Feeling Charlie’s kindness and sincerity, the former soldier abandons the stupid idea and decides to return home.
The young man faces a college trial. Charlie already knows that his friend intends to name the culprits. But he himself decides to remain silent: communication with Frank further strengthened the idea of the inadmissibility of “snitching”. Having risen on the stage, the young man is surprised to see Slade enter the packed hall. He sits down next to Charlie in the parental seat, explaining to the director that he was friendly with the boy’s family.
“But the worst of all is the amputated soul. You can’t replace a soul with a prosthesis “
Frank takes the floor and delivers a speech, talking about courage, nobility and the importance of principles in educating the younger generation, which should not sell themselves for the future (a very relevant thought at all times).
His words were successful – under the stormy jubilation of the audience, the verdict is pronounced: the student Simms is fully acquitted. The friends go outside, where a college teacher with gorgeous red hair catches up with them. The girl was greatly impressed by Frank, and she would not mind getting to know him better …
Leaving Charlie, Frank returns home, where the kids meet him. If earlier they aroused the undisguised hostility of a man, now he is not averse to joking and playing.
The meaning of the film
The film “The Smell of a Woman” is based on the story of the relationship between two completely different people.
The film’s collisions can be called paradoxical: Lieutenant Colonel Slade has lost his sight, but has a rare insight. This applies not only to his amazing ability to guess the women nearby, but also to his extremely accurate assessment of the people nearby.
At the same time, this adult is behaving like a child: his planned attempt to commit suicide is essentially an escape from reality, with which he is unable to come to terms.
At the same time, 17-year-old Charlie acts like a mature man: he takes responsibility for the charge, following him, and intuitively finding the right actions and words. Certainly in this he is helped by innate qualities, such as kindness, sincerity, a sense of duty.
As a result of the interaction of two pronounced characters, their mutual enrichment occurs. Charlie strengthens his way, realizing that you cannot sacrifice principles for the sake of momentary gain. The lieutenant colonel finds peace of mind and joy of life, especially since he obviously sees his son in Charlie.
The timing of the action was not chosen at random: since the time of the first settlers, it has been customary to express gratitude to God on Thanksgiving Day. Fate sends us trials that we need to overcome in order to find happiness.
The film “Smell of a Woman” ends with a happy ending that seems dubious to many viewers and critics. However, if we consider the main idea of the film to be the victory of eternal values - honesty, love, humanity, adherence to principles, such an ending can be considered quite natural.