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Matchstick Men

Thriller . Crime . Drama . Comedy

A phobic con artist and his protege are on the verge of pulling off a lucrative swindle when the con artist's teenage daughter arrives unexpectedly.

Actors: Sam Rockwell , Nicolas Cage , Alison Lohman , Bruce Altman , Bruce McGill , Jenny O'Hara , Steve Eastin , Beth Grant , Sheila Kelley , Fran Kranz
Directors: Ridley Scott
Country: USA
Release: 2003-09-12
More Info:
  • Roger Ebert

    Lohman in particular is effective; I learn to my astonishment that she's 24, but here she plays a 15-year-old with all the tentative love and sudden vulnerability that the role requires, when your dad is a whacko confidence man.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    The dialogue -- especially that between Roy and Frank -- crackles with wit and intelligence (a rarity in films these days).

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Glenn Kenny

    It’s a 21st-century version of "The Sting" for these so far rather unkind and ungentle times.

    Premiere Full Review
  • Keith Phipps

    A combination of criminal smoothness and overloaded neuroses, Cage pulls off the lead role better than any actor imaginable.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Michael O'Sullivan

    Enormously entertaining.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Stephen Hunter

    Let it swindle you; it's part of the fun. In fact, it's all of the fun.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Kimberley Jones

    You can easily lose five minutes making sense of it - and another 10 poking holes in it - but what of it? The preceding 100 minutes pass so pleasurably, the few false moves barely register - maybe the biggest con of all, but consider me happily snowed.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Credible? Not really. But Cage and Rockwell play off each other with devilish finesse. And Lohman (White Oleander) is on fire -- she's a comer.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Michael Wilmington

    This movie is a model of technique, beautifully crafted, often brilliantly acted by Cage and the others, but it's a bit hollow at the center.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • David Sterritt

    A well-made entry in the fashionable caper-movie genre, which has gathered steam lately with "Ocean's Eleven" and others.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Jami Bernard

    The direction is still slick, but Matchstick Men gets most of its thrills from the unknowable in human interaction. This could be the biggest "scam" Scott himself has pulled off.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Carrie Rickey

    Overall, Matchstick Men, which is based on the novel by Eric Garcia, is more memorable for Lohman's naturalistic acting and Scott's mannerist direction than it is for its O. Henry surprise.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Edward Guthmann

    A clever look at con artists and their games of deception.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    Well-acted and intriguing exploration of dishonesty in its varied forms, leavened with a dry comic touch.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Paul West

    The picture juggles three story threads. It's an excellent character study, a surprisingly effective father-daughter drama and a caper movie littered with surprises.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • Brad Slager

    This is the work of professionals acknowledging a good story and knowing better than to get in the way.

    Film Threat Full Review
  • Robert Wilonsky

    That's where the movie falters: It tries to give Garcia's book a heart and conscience it didn't need and never demanded.

    Dallas Observer Full Review
  • Jonathan Rosenbaum

    The portraiture is so carefully done that I regret in some ways the tricky plot--which is also carefully done, but seems at times to belong to a different movie.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Actually, there's one other way to approach Matchstick Men, and that's to forget all about neuroses and con artistry and admire the movie instead for the unsettlingly beautiful directorial study in geographical mood that it is.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    The best moments in Matchstick Men belong to Cage and Lohman, who, in "Paper Moon" fashion, prove that the family that cons together, laughs together.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Maitland McDonagh

    The soundtrack, which relies heavily on melancholy Sinatra standards like "The Good Life," "This Town" and "Summer Wind," casts perfectly modulated warning shadows over the film's light, bright look.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • J. Hoberman

    Single-dad sitcom is not Sir Ridley's forte but, anachronistically evoking the ring-a-ding-ding ambience of "Auto Focus" and "Catch Me If You Can," his mise-en-scène is as impeccable as Roy's pad.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Dana Stevens

    Both entertaining and empty: an emotional shell game that leaves you feeling cheated even though, on the surface at least, everyone is a winner.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • David Ansen

    Scott's finesse can't entirely disguise the mechanical nature of Nicholas and Ted Griffin's script, which has one too many twists for its own good. Fun while it lasts, but it's a bit of a con job itself.

    Newsweek Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    Odd mixture of ultra-sleek visuals, psychological probing, "Paper Moon"-like father-daughter swindling, self-improvement efforts and abrupt tough-guy stuff keeps the picture percolating, even if it seems too artificial to genuinely convince on an emotional or dramatic level.

    Variety Full Review
  • Shawn Levy

    Despite a cast of solid actors and a director with one of the most exquisite visual sensibilities in the business, the film is too often flat when we want it to dazzle us.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Kirk Honeycutt

    The movie so successfully raises the emotional and psychological stakes in the first half that not all audiences may like the film's reversion to con-artist form in the second. The con itself is preposterous and full of holes when we think back after the movie.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    Anyone who regularly watches caper flicks will likely quickly figure out what's wrong with this picture, though the twist ending is likely to be a surprise for the less jaded.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Renee Graham

    Rockwell is a hoot as Frankie, but during the stretches when he's not on screen, the air goes out of the film.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Rick Groen

    A movie about con artists that turns out to be a con job, and guess who's getting played for a sucker?

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Michael Sragow

    Instead of exploding, it implodes.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    Matchstick Men isn't even remotely intricate; it's not even particularly interesting. Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    The movie is moderately enjoyable, but it also makes you feel conned: It offers up a disturbing protagonist and then substitutes cuteness for character.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    Everything in Matchstick Men moves and looks right, from John Mathieson's cinematography to Tom Foden's production design, so it's puzzling that the film fizzles rather than fizzes.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Scott Foundas

    Its characters are as flimsy and expendable as the title suggests, while only the most gullible of viewers (i.e., those who've never seen a David Mamet picture) will likely be duped by the painfully et cetera who's-conning-whom antics or the mounds of forced sentimentality under which they're ill-disguised.

    L.A. Weekly Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    My real problem with Matchstick Men is that it didn't con me well enough: I saw every trick up its sleeve in the first 20 minutes. If everything had been what it seemed--now, that would have been a stunning twist.

    Slate Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    Cleverly conceived, skillfully made and performed with unflagging verve, it's a change of pace (slower) and scale (smaller) for Mr. Scott, the director of such pounding epics as "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down." Yet this intimate, intricate con about a couple of petty con men selling water filtration systems is also remote and forgettable in the end, a lapidary icicle.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
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