The Grifters
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Director Stephen Frears' tense adaptation of Jim Thompson's novel The Grifters was one of a number of revival film noirs in the first half of the '90s. Updating the setting to contemporary Los Angeles, the film follows a trio of con artists who are intent on out-foxing each other. Roy Dillon (John Cusack) is a simple, two-bit con, whose life is thrown into turmoil when his estranged mother Lilly (Anjelica Huston) returns home in an attempt to evade the law. Lilly doesn't warm to Roy's girlfriend Myra Langtry (Annette Bening), who is too similar to herself. Soon, the two… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Best to savor The Grifters for its handsome design -- the picture looks as clean as a Hockney landscape -- and its juicy performances."
‑ Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine
"Donald Westlake's excellent screenplay does some justice to the starkness of Jim Thompson's novel; and Frears' direction never fails to grab the attention."
‑ Stephen Garrett, Time Out
"[VIDEO] Although the movie recalls films by the Coen Brothers or the Dahl Brothers, "The Grifters" retains its source material's voice in a thoroughly original way. Here's a neo-noir you can never see too many times."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"British helmer Frears makes auspicious American debut with this light, speedy, perfectly executed noir, based on Jim Thompson's novel, boasting three terrific performances; one of the best films of the year"
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Well done, but finally airless modern noir."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"A mannerist thriller that doesn't begin to work despite the number of talented hands involved."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"The Grifters is so good that one leaves the theater on a spellbound high."
‑ Vincent Canby, New York Times
"A darkly cynical and uncompromising gem."
‑ , Film4
"[A] quirky, absorbing adaptation of Jim Thompson's pulp novel."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"Donald Westlake's screenplay has the right combination of vivid characters, mordant wit and avaricious savagery which distinguishes the best noir."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Cusack underplays Roy, making him an unbelievable wiseguy, a colorless cipher too akin to the saps he loves to fleece."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"It seduces you into believing it's merely a cheeky trifle, and then, when you least expect it, lowers the boom."
‑ Hal Hinson, Washington Post
"Clever writing and fine cast make this tale of thieves among us fun to watch."
‑ Steve Crum,
"Intriguing neo-noir."
‑ Dan Lybarger, Nitrate Online
"perfectly-cast... a gem"
‑ Christopher Null,
More reviews for The Grifters on Rotten Tomatoes