Mama’s Boy: “The Grifters”


The 1991 film soleil thriller The Grifters contrasts seedy crime hijinx and hints of perversion with the sunshine of California. Based on a Jim Thompson book, The Grifters tells the story of three con artists at different levels of their craft. John Cusack plays a small-time con who’s dating a huckster played by the then-HOTTTTT Annette Bening. Seriously, Bening is smokin’ in this. Plus, she’s naked a lot. I can’t stress this enough, Filmmakers: If you want me to like your movie, throw some boobies in there.

Anjelica Huston plays Cusack’s mom, who works for a kingpin. Soon, the threesome’s naturally treacherous ways cause their paths to collide, leading to a climactic conversation that’s perversely tragic. Or is it tragically perverse? I don’t know. Either way, it was sad and grossed me out a little.

Huston and Bening were nominated for Oscars for their roles. Huston is a force of nature, and her surprising scene with the kingpin (played with oily menace by Pat Hingle) adds a layer of depth that lots of mediocre movies don’t bother with. Cusack is seemingly the protagonist for most of the film, but fittiingly, the film pulls a fast one, and we realize that Huston was our hero (if you can call it that) all along.

The film was produced by Martin Scorcese,and the story’s melodrama, violence, and dark intelligence are write up the master’s alley. Check it out…Or don’t!

The Grifters (Miramax Collector’s Series)


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