The Grifters

Seduction. Betrayal. Murder. Who’s conning who?

Crime Drama
110 min     6.6     1990     USA


A young short-con grifter suffers both injury and the displeasure of reuniting with his criminal mother, all the while dating an unpredictable young lady.


John Chard wrote:
My son is going to be all right. If not, I'll have you killed. The Grifters is directed by Stephen Frears and adapted to screenplay by Donald E. Westlake from the novel of the same name written by Jim Thompson. It stars Anjelica Huston, John Cusack and Annette Bening. Music is by Elmer Bernstein and cinematography by Oliver Stapleton. “The best reason I can think of is that you scare the hell out of me. I have seen women like you before, baby. You're double-tough and you are sharp as a razor, and you get what you want or else; but you don't make it work forever. Sooner or later the lightning hits, and I'm not gonna be around when it hits you” 1990 was a grand year for neo-noir, of the dozen + titles that came out that year, The Grifters sits atop of the pile. A superlative film noir that boasts class on the page and on both sides of the camera. Set in modern day Los Angeles, the story follows three cynical and sly con artists through a psychological fog of bluff, double bluff, pain, misery, manipulations and shattering developments. That the trio consists of a boyfriend, girlfriend and an estranged mother only darkens the seamy waters still further. Los Angeles positively bristles with a smouldering atmosphere thanks to the work of Frears, Bernstein and Stapleton. Sexual tension is ripe, Westlake’s adaptation doing justice to Thompson’s novel, while the three leads – and Pat Hingle in super support – are on fire, bringing complex characters vividly to life as they trawl through the devilishly labyrinthine plot, adding biting humour and shallow savagery into the bargain. A top draw neo-noir that doesn’t cut corners or pull its punches, from the split screen opening salvo to the pitch black finale, The Grifters delivers high quality for neo-noir fans. 9/10