28 January 2009 | Chrysanthepop
Play Nice. Don't Fight.
Frears's 'The Grifters' is a bizarre noir-style disturbing thriller with dark undertones of themes such as despair, greed, incest and murder. Unlike most con thrillers, this one does not focus on tricks. Rather it focuses mainly on the characters. Lilly is in it big and she needs (or wants) money. Roy is frustrated and is in an ambivalent state. Myra, uses her weapon of seduction to have her way...including getting Roy back into the game. Then there's a fourth character, money. Which tangles them into a lethal web resulting in severely extreme consequences. It starts off a little slow as the three lead characters are introduced but the pace picks up in the proceedings. The twists and layers are well done as the viewers move back and forth into hating and liking the characters. The final sequence between Huston and Cusack is among the most unsettling scenes and it was brilliantly executed. Yet, 'The Grifters' is far from my favourite Frears film. I pretty much loved his other movies like 'High Fidelity', 'Dirty Pretty Things', 'Mrs. Hendersen Presents' and so on but I felt this movie lacked something even though I myself am a big sucker for weird movies. The three leads deliver solid performances. Cusack is finely restrained and quite intense. Bening is suitably perky, slutty and malicious. Huston is a knock out as she delivers a chilling performance. The score is quite low key (usually a piano track) except during dramatic sequences. The lighting has been well done. 'The Grifters' is intriguing and quite a departure from the usual con flick. In the end, it leaves an unsettling taste.