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4.4 out of 5 stars48
4.4 out of 5 stars
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For Nicolas Cage fans, MATCHSTICK MEN is a treat diluted only by the knowledge that Cage wasn't even nominated for an Oscar-worthy performance.
Cage is Roy, teamed with partner Frank (Sam Rockwell); both are con artists, or "Matchstick Men". As the film opens, we watch as the two cash in on a scam that enables them to plunder the bank account of an elderly couple.
Roy is also an obsessive-compulsive with phobias for dirt and the outdoors. Without his medication, Roy gets twitchy. One day, he accidentally knocks his pill supply down the kitchen sink. Bad timing, since his psychiatrist drug supplier is out of town. On Frank's advice, Roy visits a new shrink, Dr. Klein (Bruce Altman), to whom he admits a previous marriage abandoned some fourteen years previous when his wife was pregnant. Through Klein's intercession, Roy is put in touch with his teenage daughter, Angela (Alison Lohman), who's always been curious about Old Dad. Indeed, against her Mom's wishes, she appears on Roy's doorstep to spend a long weekend. Roy is alternatively smitten with paternal affection and acute anxiety over the dirt Angela tracks onto his carpet. Klein believes the girl's presence is good therapy.
MATCHSTICK MEN is about scammers and cons, so, by the time the credits roll, you shouldn't be too surprised at the general storyline, which is one oft seen before. What elevates the film is the intensity of Cage's extraordinary performance as the mentally tortured lead. We've watched Nicolas do this previously in LEAVING LAS VEGAS and BRINGING OUT THE DEAD. Cage is apparently not one for whom a role is simply a facade easily sluiced away at the end of the day's shoot. Cage always makes me believe the screen character is himself through to the core, something which either makes the actor one of the most talented in the Biz or a schizo seriously in need of professional help.
The other remarkable performance in this film is that of Lohman. Playing the 14-year old Angela, one is apt to forget, or not believe, that the actress is actually in her mid-twenties. She had me fooled.
MATCHSTICK MEN is perhaps one you'll want to see a second time to locate the key sequence where you yourself were fooled. This is first-rate entertainment.
22 comments7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 January 2005
Meet Roy and Frank, a couple of professional small-time con artists. What Roy, a veteran of the grift, and Frank, his ambitious protégé, are swindling these days are "water filtration systems," bargain-basement water filters bought by unsuspecting people who pay ten times their value in order to win bogus prizes like cars, jewelry and overseas vacations--which they never collect. These scams net the flim-flam men a few hundred here, another thousand there, which eventually adds up to a lucrative partnership. Roy's private life, however, is not so successful. An obsessive-compulsive agoraphobe with no personal relationships to call his own, Roy is barely hanging on to his wits, and when his idiosyncrasies begin to threaten his criminal productivity he's forced to seek the help of a psychoanalyst just to keep him in working order. While Roy is looking for a quick fix, his therapy begets more than he bargained for: the revelation that he has a teenage daughter--a child whose existence he suspected but never dared confirm. What's more troubling, 14-year-old Angela wants to meet the father she never knew. At first, Angela's appearance disrupts her neurotic father's carefully ordered routine. Soon, however, with his own unique spin on parenthood, Roy begins to enjoy a relationship he never dreamed of having with his daughter. But while he develops paternal feelings for the 14-year-old, she's developing a fascination with Daddy's questionable career.
'Matchstick Men' is hilarious film with an unpredictable twist. Definately one to treasure
22 comments16 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 28 February 2004
This is film making at it's peak, absolutely fantastic. Nicolas Cage is at his best and on home ground playing the conman Roy who suffers from compulsive obsessive disorder in this crime story with a twist. The acting all round is superb, Sam Rockwell as Roy's business partner Frank, and Alison Lohman as Cage's 14 year old daughter. I won't go into the story as that would ruin it, but if you like your films slick and clever with a original story then you can't get much better than this. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 15 December 2004
I'm tempted to give this one max points. This movie totally conned me, and bumped itself effortlessly into being my new favourite Nick Cage movie. Special kudos to the amazingly beautiful and talented Alison Lohman, totally oudoing her previous performance in White Oleander.
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VINE VOICEon 9 April 2004
It's a fact that Ridley Scott is my favourite director, having made some archetypal examples of various genres in his career, redefining science fiction, for example, with Alien and Blade Runner and even his lesser known films, understated classics such as The Duellists, bring a polished finesse to the screen; undoubtedly, when Scott makes a movie, we should all sit up and take notice. Scott's marvellous pedigree is no less in evidence in his latest creation Matchstick Men, which marks something of a change of emphasis for the British born director, it doesn't sit comfortably in a niche genre, it's not really a blockbuster either; rather, it is mainstream, pleasant and has a wider appeal than his usual fare. The title, US slang for conmen, tells the story of a pair of con artists and their dubious methods of enrichment; Nicholas Cage, as the lead, takes us on a neurosis fuelled journey through a remarkably well-defined lifestyle and along the way we are introduced to a long-lost daughter, some dubious psychiatry and one last big scam, all of which are executed with a polish and professionalism that never fails to be amusing, whilst the issues that are exposed are nonetheless deadly serious.
As ever with Scott's works, the often mundane camera fodder is imbued with a stylish ingredient that makes everything look just right and beyond this, the soundtrack is perfectly in tune with the spirit of the film, adding an easy-listening feel, to the easy-viewing quality that the movie has in abundance. In truth, this film is so well constructed that there's no effort involved in absorbing it, there are no rough edges or dubious devices employed to further the plot, it's eminently digestible and ultimately agreeable and without giving anything away, it has hidden depths which only add to the flavour. All in all, a wonderful, freewheeling and relaxed movie that will appeal to almost everyone, recommended very highly indeed.
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on 26 February 2014
I think this is a prime example of just how great the artistry in mainstream commercial cinema can be. Entertaining as hell and superbly crafted. It's a modestly proportioned, highly stylish little comedic masterpiece.

Hardly surprising when you understand that it was knocked-out as a quickie by Ridley Scott's team between mega-blockbuster projects. Made for relatively little (and for the fun of it essentially) by a master-filmaker at the top of his game, it clearly demonstrates how deeply Scott is into movies and movie-making. His love of the medium shines through every facet of this gem.

The confident, high polish one expects is here in spades but the uncharacteristically modest scale of the project permits him to demonstrate a delicious lightness of touch which makes for a breeze of a ride. Characterisation and performances are consistently fresh (the three leads are equally memorable) in what is obviously conceived as original take on classic romantic comedies of the type that ended in the early sixties. Consequently there is a perfectly judged retro quality to this classy piece of contemporary Hollywood style. A joy.

The plot concerns the activities of a small cast of LA-based con-men and is ingeniously conceived. I completely disagree with the idea expressed elsewhere here that there are holes in the story that blow the plausibility of the central conceit. I'd say anyone watching for the first time will simply be swept along without a hitch (as I was).

Certainly the audacity is larger than life (this is an entertainment about tricksters) and gives one pause retrospectively. However, watch the DVD commentary and you will have the greatest difficulty picking holes. Any qualms will likely be quelled. The story is actually extremely tight; the strength of the script being what brought Scott on board in the first place. And finessed to perfection by his impeccable maker's attention to detail. Like every other aspect of the film, close examination reveals it to be rock solid.

Seriously, this one's a total treat.
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on 2 February 2004
Of all the movies I went to see at the cinema last year, I can choose a handful I thought were great. Films I was pleasantly suprised with and that I enjoyed from start to finish. Matchtick men is one of those films.
This is a very well crafted movie, with a strong script, superb performances and top notch directing. Im not a massive fan of Nic Cage, in fact he usually stars in movies I would rather avoid (such as con-air and gone in 60 seconds) but he really shines in this role. He plays the main lead with such conviction its hard to fault. Playing the twitchy, "not quite with it" role could be over cooked and made to look over acted, but Cage plays the role with conviction.
Sam Rockwell is fantastic (as ever!) and an actor I always enjoy seeing on screen. Ridley Scott really brings the movie together, using some fantastic lighting and camera shots. Overall, this is a very good movie, one that you can come out of the cinema smiling.
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on 24 January 2006
Matchstick Men is a great movie. And prooves who ever doubted Nicholas Cage's acting skill wrong by giving an insparational performance, as the mentally disturbed con man. With an inventive story line, and strong supporting cast, I think that this is one of most underated films in recent years.
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on 4 March 2004
This film has layers to it that everyone can understand. From a simple storyline to a great twist. This Film is Amazing and should have been nominated for Oscars. Nick Cage puts in a stunning Performance. 10/10 :)
There are no special effects to it but it doesnt matter because the storyline is so well thought and doesnt once break a sense of realism.
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on 7 February 2005
I was'nt expecting a lot from this film initially - especially with Nicholas Cage in a leading role - he can be very hit or miss in his choice of films - but this one is a definate "MUST SEE" and own film - if you enjoy , excellent acting / casting / storyline / plot / twists ! You will find yourself glued to the characters and the story - the end was just perfect - or should i say the ends ! ENJOY !
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