SEDUCTION. BETRAYAL. MURDER. WHO’S CONNING WHO?
Veteran con artist Lilly Dillon (Anjelica Huston) meets her son (John Cusack) for the first time in eight years and realizes that he’s been seriously hurt; after getting him to a hospital, she meets his mysterious girlfriend (Annette Bening)… The same year as Martin Scorsese directed GoodFellas, he also produced this pitch-black drama about three professional grifters. Mother and son share a sensitive past and the girlfriend is very skilled at what she does (as proven in an entertaining flashback sequence where she was part of an elaborate scam). Very dark, but utterly involving thanks to a good script, tight direction, an edgy music score and superb performances where Huston is a stand-out.
1990-U.S. 114 min. Color. Produced by Martin Scorsese, Robert A. Harris, Jim Painter. Directed by Stephen Frears. Screenplay: Donald E. Westlake. Novel: Jim Thompson. Music: Elmer Bernstein. Cast: Anjelica Huston (Lilly Dillon), John Cusack (Roy Dillon), Annette Bening (Myra Langtry), Pat Hingle, Henry Jones, Michael Laskin… J.T. Walsh, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jeremy Piven. Narrated by Martin Scorsese.
Trivia: Cher was allegedly considered for the part of Lilly.
Last word: “John Gielgud once said, ‘If you’re lucky you know what film you’re in.’ [Making sure everybody’s on the same page] is part of the job. You have to learn to talk to your actors. I was directing Annette Benning on ‘The Grifters’ and I told her about Gloria Grahame – she hadn’t heard of her – and I told her to watch her films. And after that her performance was brilliant.” (Frears, MovieMaker)