I saw this film by accident. I hadn’t seen a poster, a commercial or a trailer. I didn’t see an ad or a review. My boyfriend and I were looking to see what was out and saw it listed on one screen in the entire city. We looked it up, watched the preview and thought it seemed like great fun and far better than any of the other offerings.
The film opens with the brothers as children. It sets up their dynamic wonderfully, and we are off on the adventures with them. They have perfected the art of the con, able to weasel just about anything out of anyone. The older brother, played by Mark Ruffalo, is obsessed with the perfection of the scheme, while the younger, Adrian Brody, is growing tired of the game. He wants something in his life to be real, rather than arranged.
With the promise that it will be the last, they embark on a con of international proportions, with the help of explosives expert “Bang Bang” (Rinko Kikuchi) The mark is Penelope, Rachel Weisz, a spoiled, sheltered very wealthy girl, who shares the same desire for a “real” experience.
Convinced that she is in on the scheme, the set out to purchase a rare book on the black market to resell it to a collector in Mexico. They traipse through Greece, Prague, New Jersey, Russia and the Atlantic before all is said and done.
It is a charming movie. The characters are cheeky and endearing, if eccentric. The romp is fun, and often funny. It uses its quick pace to its advantage, for the most part. The production design is divine, for the most part, but it can be confusing. Most of the costuming and sets would suggest the tale is set in the 20s or 30s, yet there is modern technology and cars. Although Rian Johnson (director and producer) is astute in thinking that the style should fit the “old-timey” look of the turn-of-the-century, it can be a bit jarring at time. Still, it is mostly well-integrated. Wit and dialogue abound, but for a film about perfection, it fails to hold itself to the same standard. Some plot details are missing, or unexplained, and it is not clear that it was done on purpose or if it was the casualty of the cutting room.
Overall, it film is well-acted, and enjoyable. It is a shame it didn’t have more publicity behind it. It is fun to watch, and I want to see it again. Perhaps the disappointment I felt lay in the fact that it could have been a stunningly excellent film, and it was instead a very good movie.