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 <email@example.com>
An excerpt from The Lady Vanishes (1983) features in the film. See more »
In the train, when Roy is grifting the sailors, you can see
that he is only rolling one die at a time. However, you can distinctly hear him drop two dice (out of the frame) to the table at the end of the game. See more »
Around the country the bookies pay off winners at track odds. It's dangerous when a long shot comes in. Unless you have somebody at the tracks to lower those odds.
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Frears's 'The Grifters' is a bizarre noir-style disturbing thriller with dark undertones of themes such as despair, greed, incest and murder. Unlike most con thrillers, this one does not focus on tricks. Rather it focuses mainly on the characters. Lilly is in it big and she needs (or wants) money. Roy is frustrated and is in an ambivalent state. Myra, uses her weapon of seduction to have her way...including getting Roy back into the game. Then there's a fourth character, money. Which tangles them into a lethal web resulting in severely extreme consequences. It starts off a little slow as the three lead characters are introduced but the pace picks up in the proceedings. The twists and layers are well done as the viewers move back and forth into hating and liking the characters. The final sequence between Huston and Cusack is among the most unsettling scenes and it was brilliantly executed. Yet, 'The Grifters' is far from my favourite Frears film. I pretty much loved his other movies like 'High Fidelity', 'Dirty Pretty Things', 'Mrs. Hendersen Presents' and so on but I felt this movie lacked something even though I myself am a big sucker for weird movies. The three leads deliver solid performances. Cusack is finely restrained and quite intense. Bening is suitably perky, slutty and malicious. Huston is a knock out as she delivers a chilling performance. The score is quite low key (usually a piano track) except during dramatic sequences. The lighting has been well done. 'The Grifters' is intriguing and quite a departure from the usual con flick. In the end, it leaves an unsettling taste.
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