The Grifters

Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 18 Critics What's this?

User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 51 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: When small-time cheat Roy Dillon (Cusack) winds up in the hospital following an unsuccessful scam, it sets up a confrontation between his estranged mother Lilly (Huston) and sexy girlfriend Myra (Bening). Both Lilly and Myra are ruthless confidence artists playing the con game in a leagueWhen small-time cheat Roy Dillon (Cusack) winds up in the hospital following an unsuccessful scam, it sets up a confrontation between his estranged mother Lilly (Huston) and sexy girlfriend Myra (Bening). Both Lilly and Myra are ruthless confidence artists playing the con game in a league far above Roy ... and always looking for their next victim. The question soon becomes who's conning who as Roy finds himself caught in a complicated web of passion and mistrust. (Miramax) Expand
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. 100
    Huston's power as Lilly is astounding... She bites right through the film-noir pulp; the [climactic] scene is paralyzing, and it won't go away.
  2. Reviewed by: John Stone
    100
    [Frears] has not only captured the bleak qualities of the old film noir melodramas but supplied an undercurrent that is as sly as it is unsettling. [25 Jan 1991]
  3. 100
    The performances are all insidiously powerful.
  4. 88
    Huston gives one of her very best performances as a strong lady who can con almost everyone but herself. Her manner on the screen in this picture and in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors'' marks Huston as the one contemporary actress who comes closest to having the power of classic female dramatic stars of years past. [25 Jan 1991]
  5. Reviewed by: Hal Hinson
    80
    [Huston] brings a vital conviction to her scenes; they're scorchingly immediate, and her ability to get in sync with what Lily's feeling is what gives the movie weight. She may be the best we have.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    70
    Best to savor The Grifters for its handsome design -- the picture looks as clean as a Hockney landscape -- and its juicy performances. [11 Feb 1991]
  7. While the filmmakers manage to keep things interesting (sexy, kinky, and ambiguous) much of the time, the self-conscious piety that Frears lavishes on this material places it in an uncertain netherworld that prevents it from ever becoming fully convincing, even as a stylistic exercise.

See all 18 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Jun 20, 2012
    7
    An indie crime-drama fixes on a veiled Oedipus complex relationship between a mother and his son, which also involves another pivotal figure,An indie crime-drama fixes on a veiled Oedipus complex relationship between a mother and his son, which also involves another pivotal figure, the son's femme fatale girlfriend. One background consensus is that they are all grifters, while the mother is an old-hander, the girlfriend is a slutty self-seeker, they are pros, bar the son is just a small-time crook and being too righteous to go down with the swindle business, what Expand
  2. Jun 26, 2015
    4
    The Grifters ultimately left me feeling quite disappointed. The ending is quite intriguing and well done, but the first three quarters of theThe Grifters ultimately left me feeling quite disappointed. The ending is quite intriguing and well done, but the first three quarters of the film are pretty terrible. Though John Cusack is strong and the premise is interesting, the premise winds up being the only interesting part for much of the film as it winds up just dragging along and never really feeling like anything ever happens. Anjelica Huston is terrible here (seriously, her pronunciation of Los Angeles made me question my decision to watch this one at all) and Annette Benning is alright, but her character is so poorly written and sexist, it is appalling. Honestly, her character is resigned to being nothing more than an object to have sex with, in spite of showing some serious talents as a "grifter". Anyways, the last little bit does save this one from being worse because it is interesting and the film itself is well made, though the direction from Stephen Frears was quite disappointing to say the least. Overall, The Grifters is a sub-par film that should have been way better than it was. Expand

See all 6 User Reviews

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