Walter Koontz (De Niro) - once a hero cop, now a security guard - lives in a rundown Hell's kitchen tenement. One fateful night, after hearing the cries of a neighbour in trouble, his attempt to help turns into a nightmare when he suffers a stroke. Paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak clearly, Koontz, on the advice of his doctor, seeks voice lessons. But with winter holding him hostage to his apartment, he has no choice but to seek help from a musically inclined neighbour whom he vehemently dislikes: outspoken drag queen Rusty (Hoffman)...
Robert de Niro is very good in parts but outshone by Philip Seymour Hoffman in his role as a very convincing drag queen. A bit claustrophobic as mainly subdued indoor camera work but nevertheless, not a dull moment. It wears well with time and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.
I loved this. Philip Seymour Hoffman is totally convincing as an OTT drag queen. He takes care of everyone, the grand dame and mother of his band of flamboyant friends. He hides his loneliness. Robert De Niro is also excellent in his depiction of a once strong policeman who suffers a stroke that leaves him barely able to talk. He struggles to walk. Both PSH and RDN nail these brave roles that a a giant departure from other characters they have played. There is a powerful scene when PSH is dressed for once in a suit. He has returned from his mother’s funeral. De Niro sits with him as PSH in a long monologue, reveals his incredible skills as an actor. The characters learn about friendship and love. I was delighted that they became friends.
De Niro is not at his best. He plays a cop who has had a stroke as convincingly as Brad Pitt can do foreign accents. It is pathetic. A large part of this film however is about the hysterical or totally miserable life of drag queens. If screaming and scratching transvestites was meant to irritate it succeeded. Some of the self-pitying and self-loathing had a similar effect. There were moments of good drama and the scene depicted on the cover is one of them, where De Niro is learning to sing. There is another film of the same name. I hope that is better.