Annette Bening twists like a mink on a leash through Stephen Frears' The Grifters
, an adaptation of Jim Thompson's novel. This may be the perfect trope for the moral hysteria that coils around a mother, her son and his girlfriend in this slender but highly pleasurable neo-noir. Small in effect and local in scope, the film is about small-fry, attractive, bloodless con-artists who view the world as neatly split between ropers and suckers, grifters and squares. "Grifter's got an irresistible urge to beat a guy that's wise", an old-timer tells Roy (John Cusack). And yet the three characters here--played by Angelica Huston, John Cusack and Bening--only beat the innocent: Lilly (Huston) gigs at the track for a mobster named Bobo, putting wads of cash on long-shot horses to even out the odds. Roy, her son, swindles citizens by dimes and degrees, flashing twenties at bars then paying for his beer with tens. His girlfriend, Myra (Bening), is hustling herself, her salad days as a long-con roper behind her. Theirs is a world of gut punches and smart lines, and the adrenaline these cheats and chisellers live by is palpable onscreen. But a larger canvas? Maybe it's there as a parallel universe. "What do you sell again?" Myra asks Roy, the matchbook salesman. "Self-confidence", he says, a wry allusion to the confidence game all three of them are playing. The movie boasts dazzling turns by Bening, Cusack and, especially, Huston, whose m&eagrave;re-fatale breaks new ground for noir. --Lyall Bush, Amazon.com
The Grifters is Stephen Frears' darkly modern noir tale of a small-time grifter Roy Dillon (John Cusack) torn between his new girlfriend (Annette Benning) and his estranged mother (Angelica Huston): both con-artistes with their own angles to play.
When small-time cheat Roy Dillon winds up in hospital following an unsuccessful scam, it sets up a confrontation between his mother Lilly and sexy girlfriend Myra. Both Myra and Lilly are ruthless at playing the con game in a league far above Roy... and always looking for their next victim. The question soon becomes who's conning who as Roy finds himself caught in a complicated web of passion and mistrust.
Anjelica Huston, John Cusack, Annette Bening, Pat Hingle, J.T. Walsh, Stephen Tobolowsky, Charles Napier, Frances Bay & Xander Berkeley
18 years and over