Starring: Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Robert Shaw
Director: George Roy Hill
Running Time: 129 mins
The Sting is an American film about a young con artist who joins forces with a grifting expert, as he seeks revenge for the murder of his partner and good friend from a criminal banker in 1930s Chicago.
This film is a classic, but it’s not necessarily the most entertaining to watch. Taking on the elements of a 30s caper, this film does have a clever storyline, along with high drama and good comedy, however on the whole, it’s just too slow-paced and long-winded to fully engage in.
It’s not like that all the way through, though. The opening of the film is quite an exciting, action-packed and mysterious case of affairs, pulling you into what promises to be a hugely fascinating story as it develops, so it is really entertaining to watch for the first 40 minutes or so.
However, the fact that the opening is a full 40 minutes long shows perfectly how long-winded this film can be. After what was a well-paced and interesting start, the story then becomes a lot more complex, and most importantly, slow, with heavy emphasis being placed on long dialogue scenes which occasionally become difficult to watch all the way through.
The other problem with that is that if you’ve lost total focus on the very complicated goings-on in these discussions, you lose a good idea of what’s really going on in the plot, and that makes it all the more confusing and consequently frustrating to watch.
It may be that this pacing issue is in fitting with the style of a 1930s talkie, however it is a huge problem that really changed the entire atmosphere and enjoyability of the film for me.
And it could have definitely been a lot more entertaining, because it was already good enough fun to watch at points. The caper-ish, relatively light atmosphere to the story, helped by the excellent soundtrack, is quite entertaining, and the drama and plot twists that go on as the story unfolds are also flashes which can pull you back into a story you may have fallen out of.
The thing that most impressed me about this film was how well-made it was. Both in terms of the fantastic costume design and setting, which really makes it a very convincing story to follow, as well as the fact that it was designed like a real 1930s caper, with title cards popping up as each act unfolds, laying the fundamentals of the story out very clearly.
Overall, however, this gets a 7.1, because although it was occasionally fun or exciting to watch, as well as being well-made, it was just too slow-paced and long to be able to keep a full interest in.