Scent of a Woman (1992)

scent of a woman poster 1992 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast, 1990s New York City

Too long, walks comedy-drama line sometimes awkwardly

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Scent of a Woman

Studio:  Universal Pictures/City Light Films

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  December 23, 1992

MPAA Rating:  R

scent of a woman chris odonnell philip seymour hoffman

Don’t worry, I’ll treat you like all my other poor friends

Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell) is a scholarship student at the prestigious Baird.  When he and his friend George Willis, Jr. (Philip Seymour Hoffman) witness a prank on the headmaster Trask (James Rebhorn), Charlie finds himself facing a school tribunal where he’s expected to name names after the Thanksgiving weekend.  Charlie finds work over the holidays tasked to watch Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pacino) who is blind and abrasive.  The Colonel wants to go to New York for the weekend and no one says no to the Colonel…and Charlie is along for the ride.

Directed by Martin Brest, Scent of a Woman is a drama.  The movie is an adaptation of Dino Risi’s Italian movie Profumo di donna from 1974.  The movie was released to positive reviews and received the Academy Award for Best Actor (Al Pacino) with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

scent of a woman tango donna colonel al pacino gabrielle anwar

Care to tango?

Scent of a Woman is one of those movies I should have seen years ago.  Having waited for ages, I feel I already know the movie…and while it was enjoyable, it was rather long.

The movie has a lot to set-up for the plot to work.  You have introduce the characters in Charlie’s life and what his situation is before introducing the Colonel.  The movie then needs to create a relationship between this caustic Colonel and Charlie…which it does, but sometimes it feels that it is taking too much time…and I might be jaded, but it also seems like Pacino’s character would have been tossed out of the school at the end as he rants.

Since the release of Scent of a Woman, Pacino has leaned hard into characters like the Colonel.  While he has always been a “shouter”, the Colonel was built perfect for him…the one-liners and zingers were said over-and-over again when the film was released.  Chris O’Donnell was a great preppy (since he always seemed to play him.  The movie has an early role for Philip Seymour Hoffman and James Rebhorn plays a good snooty headmaster.  The movie also has appearances by Frances Conroy, Bradley Whitford, and June Squibb.

scent of a woman driving ferrari al pacino chris odonnell


The film is a film of class, and it spends a lot of time in high class locations both in an elite New England school and some of the high end locations in New York City at the time.  It is one of those very New York movies that goes full New York in early 1990s.  It is a fun flashback to a New York City in transition.

Scent of a Woman is a decent movie, but it is also unbalanced.  The movie tries to walk the drama-comedy line at points and mostly feels light…but a few heavy intense scenes feel almost a bit too heavy at points because of the tone they are establishing.  I’m glad I finally saw Scent of a Woman, but I don’t know that I’d revisit it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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