There are two people who make the movie revolve around them – Charlie (Chris O’Donnell) and Colonel Frank Slade (Al Pacino). Charlie is this poor boy studying in a school and wishing to get a scholarship. He comes across a situation in his life where he has to choose between two things. One is giving up on his friends to get the scholarship as promised by a professor and the other is – not doing that.
Charlie also wants some part-time work during the thanksgiving so he can have enough money to go home by the time Christmas arrives. He gets the work of an aide to a retired army officer, who is blind. The man is as quick-tempered as one can be. The man is Colonel Frank Slade. Charlie accompanies him to New York, not by choice of course. They travel business class, ride in a limousine, stay in a 5-star hotel and drink Jack Daniels. On thanks giving, they both go to or rather Charlie is taken to Colonel’s brother’s place. But it seems they are not very welcome there. There is a heated argument between Colonel and his brother’s son - Randy and it is here where Charlie comes to know how colonel lost his sight. What Randy tells is full of spite for Colonel, but one gets a fair picture. Here’s how, in Randy’s words – ‘Colonel was earmarked for promotion, but he likes to spit in everybody’s eye, so he was passed over. One day colonel and one of his friends were doing a grenade juggling act, after a local breakfast of fine drinks. One grenade got away and boom it went. The friend came out unscathed but Frank lost his sight.’ (I apologize for euphemizing the incident as told by Randy, because I want those who haven’t seen the movie to see it and feel the same fervor I did after hearing it.)
They both come back and Colonel tells Charlie the reason for his New York trip -
1. dine in an expensive restaurant, 2. make love to a terrific woman and 3. blow his head off with his army pistol. The name of the movie in fact derives from here when colonel says there’s nothing like the scent of a woman, and second comes, a distant one though, a Ferrari. They are in a restaurant when the scent tells him of a fine woman’s presence nearby, with whom he tangos all his worries away. (The tango itself is so captivating that many a times I have played the movie only to watch the dance.)
The next day colonel would not budge from his bed. Charlie had never seen him so low on energy and spirits. So he had to bribe him on a Ferrari ride to get him out. Colonel gets to drive it also. It is fun, the way he drives at 70 miles per hour and the way he talks the police officer into letting them go without a ticket. They come back and colonel is low again. He asks Charlie to get an aspirin and a pack of MonteCristo no.1 for him. Charlie goes but he has a strange feeling so he comes back halfway. He sees colonel dressed in his military uniform with the gun in his hand, ready to kill himself. It takes Charlie some fighting and some talking to stop colonel from doing so. Colonel asks him one reason why he should still be living, Charlie gives him two.
At school, the dean calls a meeting of the disciplinary committee to address the issue concerning the identity of some pranksters that was known only by Charlie and one of his rich-father’s-son friends. While the friend cowered under his father’s image, Charlie did what his conscience told him to. He kept the friends’ word even after the other friend gave it away. The authorities are mad at Charlie and are about to expel him when colonel Slade comes and opens their eyes to the fact that by expelling Charlie they are actually discouraging children from listening to their conscience. Well.. what can I say about the speech he delivers, only that its as compelling as my mom’s pep-talk to me… :)
So junta, go for this movie… satisfaction guaranteed. Besides that you get to watch one of the best actors giving one of his best performances.