Friday, June 5, 2009

Matchstick Men (2003)

Starring Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman, et al
Rated PG-13, 113 minutes

Roy Waller (Cage) is a con artist. With his partner/apprentice Frank (Rockwell) he makes thousands in a water filtration system scam. Roy’s various mental afflictions – OCD, agoraphobia and more – catch up with him and boil over in the form of a panic attack. Frank’s out of the money as a result, so he refers Roy to a psychiatrist. He goes initially just to get medication. But he soon discovers, through the doctor, that he has a daughter from his ex-wife.

I found myself recapping the plot about two-thirds in during a bathroom break. As a gut reaction, I was impressed with how it progressed from the summary I gave above. But as I was bulletpointing the events in the story to myself, I was surprised to find how old hat it was. “Matchstick Men” was just so well done, with unique characters and good acting, that I sort of ignored it. Luckily, that quality carries you to the latter portion of the film, where your expectations get turned on their ear.

I love to be “in” on a scheme. It’s why “Catch Me If You Can” has so much re-watchability for me. I am still engrossed by the schemes Leonardo DiCaprio’s character pulls off. As such, this is a movie I feel like I could see again and appreciate. Cons are fun to watch.

The visuals here are fitting. Roy’s meticulous throwback home and messy makeshift office space embody both sides of his personality. Lighting was also used to good effect. You got a feel for the scene and its mood before any words were said.


Sam Rockwell continues to earn respect in my book. He was very good in his supporting role here, as has been the case in every other movie I’ve seen him in thus far. Nicolas Cage brings through the quirkiness of his character well. I’d seek this movie out for another screening in the future.

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