440. The Grifters (1990)

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7.5 Intelligent and intriguing
  • Acting 7.8
  • Directing 7.3
  • Story 7.5
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: John Cusack, Annette Bening, Anjelica Huston

Director: Stephen Frears

Running Time: 110 mins


The Grifters is an American film about a small time conman whose life is completely changed around after his own mother and his new girlfriend, both grifters themselves, become involved in a great rivalry.

This film was not at all what I expected. Although it had quite a slow start, where it appears to be your average sort of crime story, it really escalated into this incredibly bizarre fight between the two women, with numerous unpredictable plot twists along the way.

I have to say that I wasn’t really impressed by the opening half an hour of this film. It was slow, boring, and ultimately seemingly irrelevant to the final outcome of the story, apart from the fact that it was just character establishing, so I wasn’t feeling too excited about the remainder.

However, this film really kicks off about 40 or so minutes in, into this mad battle between Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening’s characters, which is an excellently fascinating and tense series of events that lead up to a completely unpredictable climax.

Also, something that was absolutely brilliant about the way this story was written was how it managed to divert your attention from various characters. You could see everybody and their respective motives for what they wanted, but the plot pulled you away from thinking one person was particularly cunning and dangerous for a certain period of time, only to reintroduce you to that idea suddenly later on, increasing the shock when you see it.

The characters themselves were all very good too. John Cusack gave a good performance, despite his relatively flat character, but Anjelica Huston was also excellent, making the suave con artist, but loving mother character very convincing.

However, I felt that Annette Bening gave a sterling performance as John Cusack’s girlfriend. From the beginning, it seems as if she’s a seductive and clever con artist, then she becomes a loving, nice and innocent girlfriend (making you forget about the first idea), and then turns into an intelligent grifter once again, before becoming just plain insane, and quite scary, so I felt her character was definitely the most interesting to look into.

Overall, despite its shaky start, I’ll give this film a 7.5, because it had many interesting levels and relationships to look at in depth, the plot was well-written, and the characters were just fascinating.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com