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   MATCHSTICK MEN (2003) 

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CAST
Nicolas Cage
Sam Rockwell
Alison Lohman
Bruce Altman
Bruce McGill
Sheila Kelly
Beth Grant
Jenny O'Hara
Steve Easton

DIRECTED BY
Ridley Scott

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 116 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama/Crime


SYNOPSIS: A phobic con artist and his protege are on the verge of pulling off a lucrative swindle when the con artist's teenage daughter arrives unexpectedly throwing a wrench in the works.

BOTTOM LINE: Cage breaks out a whole new bag of ticks in his portrayal of a somewhat successful conman with serious OCD issues. Though not a huge fan, I have to say that I'm impressed by his choice of characters and how he usually makes them, if not the film, memorable. While Roy isn't exactly likable – he makes his living stealing from others – you can't quite hate him either. His friendship with Frank (Rockwell) and a plethora of medication are the only things that keep him company until his previously unknown daughter Angela (played masterfully by Lohman) walks into his life. She seems to be a chip off the old block and manages, with equal pressure from Frank, to convince Roy to finally take the chance on one last, big con. Parenthood actually starts to agree with Roy, enabling him to break out of the rut that was his life and for the first time consider the future. Unfortunately, it's not the future he planned as the con fails to deliver on his expectations and sends his life in completely unexpected directions.

A slow build, the plot really packs a wallop of surprises in the final third, which wouldn't be half as powerful without all the character development. And what a cast of creatures it is. Rockwell seems to have cornered the market on twitchy scumballs and Frank is no exception. He made me want to just smack him. I would have to be on heavy meds to be friends with him. Lohman proves, yet again, her enormous range as the mysterious daughter looking to please her new daddy. It's her choices in an effort to secure financial freedom that end up being the most shocking. Though Roy is eccentric in the extreme, Cage manages to make him stand out from the crowd, giving him a unique voice despite similar portrayals. The final twist that makes him pay for his evil ways, while finding a better life is both clever and satisfying. MATCHSTICK MEN is a smart, adult, thrilling character piece that kept me mesmerized from beginning to end. The film has its' ponderous moments, but it more than surpassed my expectations, which were nil. Another good film sacrificed on the altar of bad marketing.




"You're not a bad guy, you know. You're just not a very good one."

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