Monday, November 26, 2012

The Grifters (1990)

John Cusack Film Fest Movie #9

Synopsis: John Cusack is a sleazy rogue who desperately wishes to become a wealthy, um…*ahem*... motherfucker.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Three con artists become involved in a web of personal and professional double dealings for love, money and eventually survival.”

What Did I Learn?: You can make lots of money through insurance fraud if you don’t mind getting smacked with a dozen oranges wrapped up in a towel.

You Might Like This Movie If: You would love to learn how to make an easy $20.

Really?: 1) Gee…what are the odds of the Mom, the son, and the son’s girlfriend all being grifters, and none of them initially knowing the other two are on the grift? 2) I had a bit of trouble believing Cusack could have amassed such a fortune through nickel-and-dime cons, or that anyone would bother making a living by substituting ten-and-twenty dollar bills. 3) So wait…I realize XXX wants the mob to believe she’s dead, but couldn’t she have taken her stolen loot with her from the Phoenix motel? Or at least some of the cash? 4) You have to be one cold son-of-a-bitch to refuse to help your Mom, especially after she saved your life earlier in the film. 5) I had a LOT of trouble believing a Mom – even one who’s estranged from her son – would seriously attempt to seduce him for cash.

Rating: While it’s more of an Anjelica Huston film than a John Cusack vehicle, The Grifters is one of his finest (albeit most disturbing) movies. Based upon a Jim Thompson pulp novel from the 1950s, The Grifters takes an unsentimental look at both con artists and the mob. Set to a musical score that’s best described as menacing, the movie is filled with great performances (especially from Huston – she plays a truly cold bitch) and several scenes that will almost certainly make you uncomfortable. Great drama, but it’s a little too contrived for a perfect score. Highly recommended. 9/10 stars.

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