The Grifters (1990)
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I don't think I liked The Grifters. It stars John Cusack as a small-time short con operator with an Oedipal complex (not my favorite dynamic, ick), Anjelica Huston as his mother who works a racket with the mob, and Annette Bening as a long con operator who uses sex as a weapon and is currently slumming it as his girlfriend. It's got some interesting cons going, but turns into a brutal thriller that doesn't sit well within the genre, and I wish I understood what Huston was doing at the track, but I just don't. The movie doesn't do a good job of explaining it, which it should considering the amount of time spent on it. And then there's Benning falling out of her clothes every few minutes. It's not necessary. The overall effect is the creation of an interesting drama about the relationships between untrusting, damaged hustlers, but its third act turn wastes the first two's potential on shock noir. I get that it's trying to be grittier and in a way more realistic than most movies about grifters, but heightened melodrama is its own kind of irreality, and I think that line is definitely crossed.
Fantastic characters in a not fully fantastic film. What the story lacks, the acting and directing make up for.
Who is a boy gonna talk to if not his mother?
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In 8 official lists
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This movie ranks #43 in Time Out’s The 100 Best Thrillers
This movie ranks #75 in 101 Gangster Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #233 in TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films
This movie ranks #254 in Jennifer Eiss's 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #350 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #376 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #422 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #913 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?