Anthony's Film Review

Matchstick Men (2003)

A con artist plot made more interesting with two original twists...

In Matchstick Men, Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell play two con artists named Roy and Frank. At the start of the film, they pretend to be salesman over the phone who clearly intend to rip off an elderly couple. They later come to their door as investigators looking into this case of fraud. Their scheme works. They get money from the unsuspecting victims both ways. It's what you'd probably see in any other con artist movie. What makes this kind of movie interesting is the various tricks you see them do and how creative they can be.

This one is interesting not for that reason, but for the central character's unusual characteristic. Roy is also obsessive-compulsive. The carpet in his house is absolutely spotless. One tiny crumb would make him go nuts. He also makes sure that nothing litters his swimming pool, not even a single leaf from a tree. All surfaces are wiped repeatedly. And when he handles his trash, he does so with gloves on. He doesn't like it when his friend walks in without regard to the extreme cleanliness he achieved.

That's not all. This otherwise standard con artist plot has a second twist. Roy's daughter named Angela, played by Alison Lohman, comes into the picture. He was previously told that she came from a previous marriage. She is now 15 years old, and when the two spend time together, a happier side of Roy comes out. Their relationship is quite sweet. He even takes the time to show her the ways of defrauding others. They both find delight in doing it together.

The big con that they pull off later really doesn't seem to matter all that much since Roy's obsessive-compulsive disorder and daughter are enough to interest the audience. I will say one thing about the ending. Without giving anything away, I liked it, but there was also part of it that didn't seem right. The part that didn't seem right is something that would not likely happen in real life. It's true that the film tried to make it interesting by being a bit different, but enough realism was sacrificed to make it less convincing. The rest of the ending, though, is quite nice.

Matchstick Men is not the greatest film, but it's a simple film with interesting twists. Time and time again, the same lesson for screenwriters is reinforced. To be creative, you have to do something that hasn't been done before or something that has been done but not in this way. If it weren't for the two twists in Matchstick Men, I doubt that I'd be interested in seeing it.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Matchstick Men, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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