‘Sharper’ review: Julianne Moore and Sebastian Stan in a deliciously twisty New York noir full of secrets and lies

Watch the Nifty Grifter drama sharp Reminded me that we can encounter this kind of clever cat-and-mouse game that may fall into the noirish genre but really relies on diving into a world full of characters who reveal pieces of their lives that change moment by moment. It’s a movie that I find extremely difficult to review because its ultimate success for a viewer is simply unfolding, watching the beat, never quite knowing exactly where it’s going but being glued to the screen to find out.

Almost any kind of factual detail requires a spoiler alert, so just trust me. With an exceptional ensemble of actors who expertly navigate the ever-changing actions of their slippery characters, a clever and precise script by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, and right-on-the-money direction from Benjamin Caron (crown) Debut a winning feature, sharp Reminds you how much we missed out on mid-range adult entertainment when it got right.

The best advice I have is to go with it, even if you think the movie is being set up from the first sequences they don’t make it. That’s when we meet Tom (Justice Smith), a typical NYC bookstore clerk who meets a customer (Briana Middleton) he clearly likes when she shows him a copy of the first edition. Jane Eyre and help her find the perfect gift for her boss. Another chance encounter later that day leads to dinner and a budding romance. Soon the duration of their new relationship changes a bit as he describes some of the financial problems that are overwhelming him at the moment. When he volunteers to bail her out, she resists, but eventually agrees to a substantial loan.

Written in a non-linear style and separated by chapters marked on the screen with character names, we watch events unfold and eventually connect to each other, as the story twists and turns and then returns again. We meet Max (Sebastian Stan), a super-successful grifter with a knack for making big scores. Under his care we meet Sandra (Middleton), a broken, drug-addicted young woman out on parole, Pygmalion-Like fashion, she turns into someone else entirely when she enlists him in her illicit suitors. All of this eventually leads to her own family connections, with her mother (Julianne Moore) now involved in a romantic relationship with Richard Hobbs (John Lithgow), a billionaire hedge fund executive whom she promptly insults as “old”. for annoyance.

These five characters, who in their own ways, may not be who they seem, at least at first glance. Perhaps all but Hobbes are dealing in some way in some way that is not addressed here. The title of the movie can give us a clue, if you know who is “sharp”. Search on Google. But just when you have an “Aha!” At this point, these filmmakers have another twist up their sleeve.

Big props to this great cast. Moore, producing for the first time, knows a good thing when he reads it and immediately grabbed the script, which was on the blacklist of great unproduced screenplays of 2020. As always, he dives into an interesting character and gives it extra dimension. Stan, playing the unhinged Max, follows the outrageous twist Pam and Tommy And another confused character fresh With a performance that rocks the house. Smith and Middleton manage to take each of their characters to multiple levels, with the latter a true star based on what he does here. Lithgow is fantastic — perfectly cast and again at the top of his game.

New York City itself is an important cast member, and a big shout out to cinematographer Charlotte Bruce Christensen, production designer Kevin Thompson and editor Ian Miles for that. Clint Mansell’s magnificent score hits all the right notes, as does the song-filled soundtrack that captures the ever-changing narratives.

Eric Feig and Jessica Switch produce for Bert Freundlich along with Moore, Gatewood and Tanaka. Picturestart, FortySixty and G&T Productions are the companies involved in bringing this latest collaboration to the screen with A24 and Apple Original Films. It premieres in London today, opens in a limited theatrical break on Friday and begins streaming on Apple TV+ on February 17.

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