The brand new con-artist thriller Sharper is arriving in theaters (forward of its debut on AppleTV+) with dismayingly little fanfare when it ought to as an alternative be celebrated. The movie, from director Benjamin Caron and writers Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, is one thing vanishingly uncommon in in the present day’s woebegone cinematic local weather: a film that, to borrow a phrase from a current Grammys villain, seems like a film. Sharper is sinewy and intelligent, a keenly acted and written B-picture of the kind that had been as soon as myriad however now solely come round as soon as each few years.
Sharper is in-built segments, every following a distinct character caught in an internet of lies and avarice. Within the first half we meet Tom (Justice Smith), an unassuming (if dreamy) e-book retailer clerk who has a meet-cute with a buyer, Sandra (Brianna Middleton). They share a bookish rapport, however Sandra is initially guarded towards Tom’s mild advances. When she does ultimately comply with a date (later that day), she and Tom show a pure match. We watch as they fall in love over the next weeks, constructing a glamorous little bohemian life collectively. That cozy swoon is emboldened by Caron and the cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s option to shoot on movie; as an alternative of the plastic dullness of a toss-off digital Netflix thriller, we get the grain and lightweight of what motion pictures used to appear to be.
Inevitably, hassle knocks on the besotted couple’s door. Sandra’s brother is in a foul spot and desires cash. Tom reveals that, effectively, he’s obtained a large belief fund granted to him by his zillionaire father. Downside solved? No, after all not. Thus Sharper begins its artful sport, circling again on characters to disclose true intentions, or no less than one other layer of deception. Middleton takes middle stage for a bit; then an alluring creep named Max (Sebastian Stan) strikes to the fore. Lastly there’s a easy society woman, Madeline, performed by a coolly radiant Julianne Moore.
As Sharper snakes its means alongside, Caron guides with a gentle and assured hand. It’s an auspicious function movie debut, suave and polished whereas nonetheless conscious of the essential mechanics of a twisty thriller. I’m certain Caron has ambitions past this type of elegant pulp, but when he wished to make a dozen extra motion pictures on this precise vein I’d eagerly welcome them.
Perhaps a number of of them may star Moore. In Sharper, the venerable actor returns to the flintiness and purr that has outlined a few of her finest work. Moore obtained her begin performing in cleaning soap operas, a specific ability set that she deftly deploys in Sharper. She’s so good at pushing issues proper as much as the sting of camp with out turning into foolish; Moore is a consummate entertainer, fastidiously conscious of her obligation to maintain issues compelling. She’s obtained crackling chemistry with Stan, these two conniving sexpots doing horrible issues with a hungry glint of their eyes.
Middleton is one other standout, a relative newcomer who seizes a big, ever-shifting position with the convenience and glide of an outdated professional. Like the remainder of her forged mates, she appears invigorated by the snap and class of the mission. Middleton additionally deftly spars Stan, who has change into one of many extra dependable darkish princes of the performing world—when he isn’t caught glooming it up in numerous Marvel initiatives. Stan appears goal constructed for a film like Sharper, which asks him to be dashing and petulant, ruthless and bratty. He, Middleton, Moore, and the remaining delight within the enjoyable, substantial roles handed to them.
Would that there have been many extra like them. Perhaps 20 years in the past, a film like this wouldn’t appear so treasured; it’s attainable Sharper solely seems like a satisfying meal as a result of we’re so in any other case starved. However these are the instances we’re residing in, so I’m completely keen to declare Sharper a type of direly wanted motion pictures that they only don’t make anymore. It’s a classy and fascinating movie that dares to be nothing greater than a literate good time.
Although the film shall be streaming into your houses quickly sufficient, think about in search of it out in theaters when you can. Maybe a bit field workplace success may encourage studios to supply extra motion pictures like Sharper, reasonably than churning out yet one more thriller that’s been agonizingly stretched out over ten tedious hours. If it helps, simply consider Sharper as a super-limited collection—although, restricted solely in size.