Sharper (2023)
February 23, 2023 11:16 AM - Subscribe

A con artist takes on Manhattan's billionaires.
posted by ellieBOA (7 comments total)
I liked the structure and was trying to figure out who was the con and who was being conned from section to section. Lots of twists and double crosses throughout. It got a little heavy-handed but overall enjoyable.
posted by jazon at 6:28 PM on February 23, 2023

I confess I watched this for Sebastian Stan, mostly. Not that there aren't good people in it worth watching, but I just ordinarily wouldn't be interested in it. I enjoyed it enough, but there were definitely scenes I really wanted to fast forward through (stuff like the pissing in the decanter scene, etc.), and a few things rang super hollow for me.

The first was that it's very pointed when Lithgow's character gives Stan's character the advice/warning "if you're going to steal, steal a lot." So when they rejoice that they've made a successful con by getting $750,000, it makes their payout seem incredibly small, considering how insanely rich Lithgow is. Like, why lampshade it and then have the payout be so small? That just felt like a way to get Julianne Moore to turn her back on Stan and go back to Lithgow, which felt like cheap writing to me.

The second was worse, though--seasoned con artists who fall for that whole manufactured melodramatic airport death scene and one who's willing to give anything away just to avoid jail? Nah. The whole thing couldn't have felt less stagey and yet...sure, she just volunteers to sign it all away to avoid jail. I would have been a lot more inclined to ignore the first problem if this second problem hadn't been so glaring. I guess it gave them a chance to have Middleton's character do the Keyser Söze walk-away in the airport.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 10:29 PM on February 23, 2023

Forgot the links last night:
‘Sharper’ Review: The Big Con [NYT / Archive]
Sharper review – slick con trick movie nearly pulls off a perfect crime [Guardian / Archive]
posted by ellieBOA at 4:03 AM on February 24, 2023

> The second was worse, though--seasoned con artists who fall for that whole manufactured melodramatic airport death scene and one who's willing to give anything away just to avoid jail?

Yeah, the movie in general was entertaining enough, but it definitely suffered from the "main characters at the climax are stone cold morons about the very thing they're been so smart about all movie" type thing that movies with "clever" twists often suffer from at the end. It'd be one thing if they were just normal people and you could tell yourself the movie The Sting didn't exist in their universe. But the movie up until that point was "we are grifters that know 8 million ways to grift".

Also, not this was real life, but no one at that level of wealth just takes a person at face value when they show up with a story about their situation. I don't even mean this with Lithgow as he starts dating and then marries Moore, but also Moore when her stepson says "oh, these guys work for the family, they figured all this out".
posted by Back At It Again At Krispy Kreme at 11:50 AM on February 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

yeah i found the idea that some hedge fund shark would get honeypotted like that a bit unconvincing (more likely that he would have private eyes dig into everything before marrying and even if it was clean have her sign an ironclad prenup) and found the part after madeline inherited the money even less convincing. she should have seen the con from a mile away. why didn't she just move as much cash as she could into offshore accounts and fly to bali? why stick around for the family drama? was fun all the same.
posted by dis_integration at 2:52 PM on February 26, 2023

Kinda fun, but the last act is so super-forced feels like it just got away from them.
posted by fleacircus at 11:58 AM on May 11, 2023

I agree with what's been said here. I felt like the general outline of the ending was telegraphed halfway through.

At the very end, when we see Sandra inviting Tom to that Japanese place on Mott St, I was reminded of—work with me here—the ending of Total Recall, where McBain Quaid is confronted with the truth about his identity, and decides he wants to stick with his adopted identity. In the same way, Middleton's character apparently decides that she wants to be PhD-candidate Sandra, not hard-bitten Sandy. But I also thought "If I were Tom, could I ever trust her? No."
posted by adamrice at 10:08 AM on January 13

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