Movies about confidence-trickery put a brand new spin on the previous rule about taking part in poker: look across the desk and in the event you can’t see the chump … then it’s you. Watch a movie about swindlers and you might effectively assume you possibly can see the one who’s being conned. However the movie’s whole narrative process, and its pleasure, depends on you, the viewers, repeatedly submitting to being performed, whereas in principle you’re the one with the wised-up criminal’s-eye-view of what’s going on.
Screenwriters Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka have had large successes on this planet of comedy and satire: now they’ve crafted this delectably fulfilling caper about fraudsters and Manhattan’s super-rich, somewhat like one thing by David Mamet – although with out reaching the Mametian laborious concrete ground of cynicism – or perhaps Stephen Frears’s sleazy drama The Grifters, primarily based on the novel by Jim Thompson. It’s obtained double-cross and triple-cross, and characters individually profiled in a daisy-chain of interrelated chapter-headed scenes. And if these really feel like the same old suspects, effectively Gatewood and Tanaka lastly deal with us to an old style Keyser Söze “walk-away” reveal scene. British TV director Benjamin Caron makes a surefooted characteristic debut right here, and his expertise on programmes by illusionist Derren Brown could have certified him for this.
The film begins in probably the most sublimely harmless means: in a sleepy antiquarian New York bookstore. Mild bibliophile Tom (Justice Smith), sits behind the counter studying Edgar Allan Poe, and appears up alertly when a (uncommon) buyer is available in: that is the fashionable twentysomething Sandra (Briana Middleton) who’s after one thing by Zora Neale Hurston. They get to speaking in regards to the PhD she is engaged on in black feminist research; he shyly asks her to dinner. One factor results in one other within the happiest of how – nevertheless it appears each of them have sad households (the opening to Anna Karenina is repeatedly cited) and Sandra needs to know why they all the time go to her modest condo and by no means to his. A horrible disaster brings the 2 lovers into traumatic contact with sinuous, predatory metropolis slicker Max (Sebastian Stan), rich New York socialite Madeline (Julianne Moore) and her mega-rich husband Richard (John Lithgow).
Like the luxurious items that in a single scene we see being stolen, the performances are out of the highest drawer, and it’s a nice pleasure to see Moore on such good type: nobody cries extra needily, and with extra nakedly sinister intent, than her. Stan is a easy rodent of charlatanism; Middleton is a charmer; Lithgow has the cautious poise of the fabulously rich and Smith is of course a darker horse than you assume. The storyline’s cheeky misdirections and trompe l’oeil give the film a seductive form of syncopation; and it’s sumptuously shot by Charlotte Bruus Christensen who provides it a tasty little bit of Brian De Palma-style flashiness. And if within the ultimate reel you possibly can kind of guess what’s coming, or in the event you marvel somewhat bit in regards to the plausibilities (how simple is it to get off a airplane when you’ve been seated?) – effectively, that doesn’t cease this being a really easy experience and a really stylish piece of leisure.