2015, Movies

Focus (2015, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa)

So I watched the first 20 or so minutes of this in a hotel in Brazil about 4 and a half months ago. I didn’t realize it was on my list. (It was a really big list.) I can’t say I was super into it and Jenn wasn’t in to it enough that she didn’t want to watch it before it left Netflix.

A rather massive SPOILER

This is a very slick hybrid con movie/romance that is, according to IMDB and Letterboxd, also a comedy, but there aren’t exactly a lot of laughs. It’s more chuckles, I guess, and mostly in the first part of the film, with the meet cute and the beginning of their relationship. (And Adrian Martinez, but there are lots of films with comic relief characters that are not comedies.) I honestly had to check Letterboxd to confirm that IMDB’s listing it as a comedy was correct. I would not describe this film as a comedy and I think if you go in looking for laughs before a twisty plot or even a romance, you will be disappointed.

As I said, it’s very slick – it looks great and it feels extremely polished. It’s a little bit like a less quirky, less good, less original and less funny The Brothers Bloom. In fact, it’s a lot like it, only like the Hollywood version (in terms of style and lack of quirk).

I have no real qualms with most of the movie, it’s well done and I’d say most things work. I do think there is a twist too many in the climax but that’s a common critique I have of con films. And, honestly, I couldn’t find anything particular that made that final twist unbelievable, beyond the SPOILER familial relationship. That obviously feels false. They try to get around it by at least implying it’s not biological but it’s still a little much. Finding a different actor than McRaney might have been a good idea, as much as he’s his usual fine self.

I re-watched the Brothers Bloom recently and so the deja vu was pretty strong. They’re tonally very different movies, but, if you ignore Weisz as the mark, the plots are kind of similar. The other thing I struggled with is the idea that romance conquers the con in this case. Our movie con artists are too clever – certainly far more clever than real people – and so it’s sort of lame when the master con artist falls for the ingenue, unless he isn’t the master con artist and he is suffering from extreme ennui. You know, like in some other movie.

It was entertaining though.


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