The Grifterssuperbly directed by Stephen Frears, beautifully adapted by Donald E. Westlake from a novel by Jim Thompson is a superlative, psychological drama and one of the finest film noir of the decade. In contemporary Los Angeles, Roy… More The Grifterssuperbly directed by Stephen Frears, beautifully adapted by Donald E. Westlake from a novel by Jim Thompson is a superlative, psychological drama and one of the finest film noir of the decade. In contemporary Los Angeles, Roy Dillon (John Cusack), a cynical con artist makes his living by small-time hustling. His trampy, deceptively empty-headed girlfriend Myra (Annette Bening) has bigger plans for him. These plans are foiled when Roy is badly hurt by a bartender he is attempting to cheat and is desperately in need of medical attention. He is aided by his estranged mother, Lily (Angelica Huston), an experienced professional con-artist who works for the mob. Lily makes sure that Roy has the medical attention he needs, and incurs the wrath of her employer when she costs him alot of money because she is late in making her bets. Lily and Myra take an instant dislike to each other and compete for Roy's affections. On a trip to the racetrack, Myra, unknown to Lily, spies on her stealing money and informs her boss. Lily, desperate to save her life goes to Roy and begs for money to escape and make a new life. Lily, discarded by Roy, follows her seeking revenge. The film quickly comes to a stunning, suprisingly poignant ending. The Grifters is exceptional in capturing the atmosphere of Los Angeles and showing the life of the con-artists who operate there. It also handles its unusual subplot dealing with the odd, sexually ambiguous relationship of Lily and Roy, the child she gave up and now hopes to reclaim. John Cusack gives a restrained, nuanced performance as the sly, manipulative and sexually-confused Roy. Annette Bening is also extremely good as Myra, an unscrupulous woman who uses her body to get what she wants. However, the move really belongs to Angelica Huston, who gives an outstanding, complex Oscar award winning performance as a woman who will do anything to survive. The long finale sequence of the film, as Lily attempts to persuade Roy to help her is outstanding in the understanding and psychological depth both Huston and Cusack bring to their roles. Huston is simply stunning as she leaves Roy's apartment intent on surviving despite the emotional cost. Stephen Frears handles this complicated material with great still and understanding, and received a well-deserved Oscar nomination, as did Bening and scriptwriter Donald Westlake.