Lily works for a bookie, placing bets to change the odds at the track. When her son is hospitalized after an unsuccessful con job and resultant beating, she finds that even an absentee parent has feelings for her child. This causes her own job to go wrong as well. Each of them faces the down side of the grift.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is one mean movie. It seduces, wraps your arms around you, and they guts you and leaves you stunned. Directed with striking precision and focus by Stephen Frears ("Philomena", "The Queen"), and written by Donald E. Westlake, one of the literary princes of crime fiction, and based off pulp author Jim Thompson's pulpy novel, in a manner so intricate with detail, so hardboiled that it cracks under the weight of each step it takes, one twist of the knife after another.
It's all too good to be true for this neo-noir, even when Martin Scorsese's producing it. Then comes the actors – and my word, are they fantastic in their roles – John Cusack is sly yet undeterred in a role that is a slightly more edgier variation on Humphrey Bogart, with a cross of Lee Marvin, to boot; Annette Bening is simply drop-dead sexy as the woman who thinks she knows it all, yet is a timebomb waiting to explode. The real star of the show is Angelica Huston in a well-deserved Oscar nominated performance, perfectly balancing the ruthless, desperate act with a honest, focused, motherly concern that doesn't feel cliché at all.
Who knew modern day, sunny Los Angeles and Phoenix can be the backdrop of so seedy a neo-noir, perhaps the best since Chinatown? Frears, Huston, Cusack, Bening, Westlake, cinematographer Oliver Stapleton and composer Elmer Bernstein deserve all the praise they can get for creating something so seedy yet starkly beautiful in retrospect.
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