Movie Of the Week: The Grifters (1990)

Stephen Frears directs John Cusack, Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening in this neo-noir based on Jim Thompson’s novel about two con women battling it out for the attentions of a short game hustler.

A video rental years favourite of mine. I probably enjoyed the sharp suits, sharper practices and blocky colour scheme back then as a pre-teen. As I grew older I began to appreciate more and more, away from the sunny location shoot (Los Angeles plays itself wonderfully) and jaunty Carter Burwell score, just how misanthropic and despairing this truly is. The Grifters is one rotten orange. The adaptation is by crime fiction heavyweight Donald E Westlake, and he typed it up with Scorsese in line to direct. Frears keeps things pretty playful, his strength is with actors, delivering an early career best from Bening and spectacular work from Huston. She is otherworldly nasty here, when she shows a vulnerability we know to also be very scared. When I was a kid, I loyally followed Cusack, now he’s the least engrossing performance. As about as awesome as crime cinema can get. I don’t remember a single gunshot.


Perfect Double Bill: Force Of Evil (1948)

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here


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