“… the only thing that was grifted was my time.”
Last night I watched The Grifters and I can’t remember a time where I regretted a decision as much as that one. Usually I have problems coming up with a plot synopsis for a movie that I’m going to review, but The Grifters amps up that difficulty to eleven. Usually a plot synopsis summarizes the main story elements of a film in order to entice a potential viewer; but what do you do when the movie has no story? Well, let’s find out! The Grifters is about a bunch of Grifters (con artists for those not born in the 40’s). They all live and/or work in Los Angeles (pronounced Los Angle-Ease) and they all have sex/ have had sex. I think. The movie goes on for a while longer and then it just ends. There are some more things that happen, but to summarize them I would need roughly 120 pages.
The Grifters starts off and immediately we are greeted with an opening-credits sequence. “That’s cute,” you think, “The Grifters is emulating movies from the golden years of Hollywood despite it being released in 1990. How fun”, except it’s not fun. It’s not fun at all. See, what that opening-credits scene doesn’t tell you is that The Grifters is only choosing to emulate the bad parts of older movies. One of these parts is of course the overly-long credits sequence, but it doesn’t stop there. The movie continues to copy Hollywood’s worst with a hamfisted score. Confused as to what you should be feeling at any given time? Don’t worry, The Grifters’ score will guide your emotions like lambs to the slaughter. This is helpful because you can turn your brain off to ignore the outrageously boring story, but still be experiencing the same thing as everybody else. Speaking of the story, let’s talk about the story. Can we talk about the story? Let’s talk about the fact that THERE IS NO FUCKING STORY! Nothing fucking happens in this movie and yet it is two fucking hours long. Why? It doesn’t make sense. The Grifters opens up with a simple enough scene: three people are simultaneously “grifting” people. Okay, that’s cool. So this movie is like a chronicle of their various scams? Nope. It turns out that none of these characters even knows that the other ones “grift”. And by the way, “grift” is a stupid word, and I feel stupid typing it. And what really sucks is that the shit being pulled off in the movie isn’t even interesting to watch. One lady goes to a race track and bets money (what that accomplishes, I have no idea), one guy goes from bar to bar scamming bartenders, and the other lady doesn’t even grift anyone. That’s right, 33% of the characters in this movie don’t even grift. All she does is set up a con, then when it inevitably goes south she just fucks the guy so she gets her way anyway. That’s not clever, that’s prostitution. Listen, I’m not slut-shaming or anything, I’m just saying that sleeping with dudes in order to manipulate them is not grifting. I don’t call myself a plumber just because I use toilets to shit, so don’t call yourself a “grifter” just because you sleep with dudes to get your way. At least the movie tides us over by talking about cool shit. That’s right, the coolest sequence in this movie is when one of the characters is just recounting a “big score” that she pulled off in the past. This is obviously setting up for another big score, but this time in the present; right? Nope. Nothing at all happens in this movie and it really sucks.
Not even the fucking acting could save this piece of shit, and that’s a surprise to me because I’ll watch anything with John Cusack. I think this is another symptom of the old Hollywood emulation because all of these actors are forced to act as thought they are on a stage. The Grifters as a movie is very refined, and it feels as though it is putting its actors in a box. Scenes are usually confined to one room, and they last fucking forever. Nobody in The Grifters looks like they want to be in The Grifters, which is funny because I didn’t want to be there either. The best-acted scene in the movie is when one of the characters are acting within the movie. How fucking sad is that. At least there was one moment where it looked like someone cared about the performance they were giving. And it also really sucks because, aside from a few party tricks here and there, the movie has no actual grifting in it. That’s like calling a movie “The Astronauts” and not having them go into space. They talk about grifting a lot; but they also talk about a lot of other things (mainly sex). God, I’m just so mad that I wasted my time watching this movie. I’m not into telling people what to do, but I wouldn’t recommend watching this movie. Hell, I’ll take it one further and implore you to find one other person who has not watched this movie, and warn them to not watch this movie.
Overall The Grifters is even more disappointing than a disappointment. Everything about this movie fucking sucks. The acting sucks, the score sucks, the fact that it’s two hours long sucks, the super long opening-credits scene sucks; everything just sucks. And to top it all off, there wasn’t even much grifting in the movie. In fact, I would argue the only thing that was grifted was my time.
I give The Grifters an A
Just kidding, I totally just grifted you there.
I give The Grifters an F