Genetics pass both the flaws and talent down from parent to child. Being Flynn reunites an estranged father and son who learn that they still share many similarities that hinder their progress in their lives. This 2012 independent film chronicles the disruption in a son's life when the father that left him shows up unexpectedly.
Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) is dumped by his live-in girlfriend who returns home to find a joint sitting on an ash tray, she rages against his insistence on being a writer. After finding new digs with a drug dealer and a gay male in an abandoned strip club, a mutual friend, and soon to be lover Denise (Olivia Thirlby) invites Nick to work at a homeless shelter for income. Nick receives a random call from his estranged father Jonathan (Robert De Niro) that he is being evicted and needs help moving out of his apartment. Weeks later, Jonathan shows up at the homeless shelter.
Being Flynn is adapted from the memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and chronicles the reuniting of an estranged father and son, all the while exposing their similarities. As a child, Nick wanted to become a writer at an early age after receiving several letters from Jonathan from prison. Jonathan insisted in each letter that he is a genius writer meant to change the world. As an adult, Nick would later learn how powerful the written word is after his mother reads an unfinished story.
Both cosmically and genetically, Being Flynn is about how the sentiments and the talents of Nick and Jonathan are inseparable. The lives of Nick and Jonathan coincidentally merge again after years apart as both have experienced some sort of disturbance in their living situation. Nick moves into a former strip club with a drug dealer and a gay man just as Jonathan is evicted after destroying a band's equipment that lived below him. Jonathan becomes homeless and without income after he is evicted from his apartment and loses job as a taxi driver after a DUI arrest that revoked his liscience.
Jonathan is affected by delusions of grandeur, an affliction that is exacerbated by his excessive alcohol abuse. In his drunken rants, and even his sober ones, he insists that he is a genius and all of his writing is a masterpiece. Yet, his work is never shared with anyone during the film, even the audience. He is a self-obsessed manic depressive that insists on maintaining a modest lifestyle. Nick is not too far behind. The film opens with Nick being dumped by his girlfriend as she lambasts him for his interest in literature and lack of employment. Nick eventually climbs the ladder of drug usage, and he too begins to lose relationships, just like his father did.
Paul Dano made a name for himself with Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood, but in Being Flynn De Niro reigns king. He rages like a lunatic and every wrinkle that surrounds his eyes speaks just as much as his lines of dialogue. Together these two paint a lively picture that will certainly resonate with father and son relationships. No matter how much one may resist, genetics have a great affect on a person's life, their talents, and even their failures. Being Flynn may resurrect a spectator's interest in their own genetics and consider what talents and flaws that may have been inherited.