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For a movie about a diamond heist, Michael Radford's talky, 1960s-set Flawless lacks sparkle--despite strong period detail, earnest messages, and committed performances.


In modern-day London, a pert, ambitious reporter (Natalie Dormer) sits down for an interview with pioneering '60s female executive Laura Quinn (Demi Moore) for what she's sure is going to be a puff piece. Much to her surprise, Laura whips out a giant gemstone and proceeds to regale her with the dishy story of what really went on at London Diamond Corp. back in the day. The movie then flashes back to Laura's heyday, when she was a motivated go-getter herself, determined to rise through LonDi's boys' club ranks--only to hit the glass ceiling with a resounding thud. Angry and frustrated, Laura is the perfect co-conspirator for crafty night janitor Mr. Hobbs (Michael Caine), who claims to have a foolproof plan for relieving the company of a little excess inventory. But when things don't end up going exactly according to plan, Laura ends up scrambling to discover the whole truth.


Flawless is far from being the perfect film that its name promises, but you've got to give the cast credit for turning in earnest, wholehearted performances. Moore is fully committed to playing Laura, from her pouffed-up '60s flip to her nonstop smoking and on-again-off-again British accent (it's explained that Laura is an American who came to England to attend Oxford and stayed, which makes lapses in her pronunciation forgivable, if still somewhat jarring). And Caine's Hobbs is a carefully measured mix of twinkle and clear-eyed determination, with a dash of mystique. Unfortunately, neither of their characters--along with most of the supporting players, from Lambert Wilson's suave investigator to Joss Ackland's bombastic company head--is particularly deep or well-developed; each fits a particular type and proceeds to fulfill the attached expectations.


Initially, it's refreshing to watch a heist movie that doesn't rely on fancy gadgets, computer surveillance, or any other high-tech manipulation--the fact the characters are temporarily flummoxed by simple set of security cameras is charmingly retro (as are the sets and costumes). But even gimmicky modern capers like Ocean's Eleven have a healthy dose of genuine suspense to keep viewers engaged. Flawless is disappointingly even-keeled; few of the ''revelations'' are very surprising, and the flashback structure means that viewers are never too worried about what's going to happen to Laura. And mixing in earnest, politically charged messages about the diamond trade and health care bureaucracy only makes the movie more ponderous--as does its frankly silly ending. Flawless may have lots of style, but it comes up short on truly entertaining substance.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 1/2 stars.