Matchstick Men: Review

This had been in the Netflix queue for a little while.  Kinda kept pushing it down because I felt like it would be an experience that I’d seen before.  But I should have remembered that this is a Ridley Scott film and if he’s going to attach himself to the project, there has to be some compelling quality.  After having checked this one out, I must say that it is a much better film than a lot of the Netflix selections that I put before it.

Matchstick Men stars Nicholas Cage and Sam Rockwell — two of my all-time favorites.  Sam Rockwell in particular I believe to be one of the most underrated actors.  He’s funny, witty, edgy… Confessions of a Dangerous Man is probably one of his best performances.  This one is a pretty good performance as well, although he plays a somewhat smaller role.  Also starring in the film is Alison Lohman, and she turns in a really notable performance as well.  But Nick Cage is by far that star here.  Although many may question his film choices considering the fact that he’s an Academy Award Winning Actor (Best Actor, no less), he still brings across that Cage-like charm in all of his roles.

I found Matchstick Men intriguing on many levels.  The main plot centers around two con men (Cage and Rockwell) and the change that their con business goes under when Cage meets his long lost daughter.  What’s more intriguing about the movie (and in particular Nick Cage’s role) is that he plays a man who suffers from OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.)  This is a condition that I also deal with on a daily basis.  I don’t have the condition quite to the extreme that the character in the movie does (what with him having to open and close the door three times before entering and exiting) but I saw a lot of parallels between some of his decision-making and mine.  Sometimes it causes you to do things that you realize are completely rudimentary, just because you need to keep the routine.  There’s a safety found in keeping the routine the same.  However, the oddity is that in an effort to keep the routine, you find yourself losing perspective on priority.  Perhaps it may be more important to maintain a professional demeanor than to insist that someone takes off their shoes.  It’s an interesting condition, and one that I probably wouldn’t understand if I didn’t have it.  This film gives people a very good look into how the condition can affect your relationships, etc.

(As a side note, for an even better and more extreme look at how OCD can affect your life, take a look at the English film, Dirty Filthy Love.  This is a powerful film that really made me take a look at how blessed I am to not have the condition to the degree that it can affect some people.)

This film also works on a much more tender level.  Often Hollywood takes a stab at showing fathers who have children re-introduced into their lives in their teenage years — often these are Adam Sandler-type comedy films.  “Daughter shows up on doorstep of busy father whose career supercedes all else….daughter throws a monkeywrench into his life, but makes him realize what’s really important, etc.”  This is a film that does the same thing, but in a much more tender way.  Even though it requires you to stretch your imagination a bit to put yourself in the shoes of a man that is a big money, scheme plotting, con man, putting aside that fact and just watching Nick Cage interact with Alison Lohman is a chance to watch something special.  The way that their relationship evolves is great, and I’m almost thinking it can be a guide for fathers (or mothers) who are re-entering a child’s life and don’t know quite where to begin.  This film shows that it will be rocky, but ultimately worth the trouble.

Initially, passed Matchstick up originally as ‘ordinary’.  It is far from ordinary.  I don’t want to give anything away here.  If you like con films, just check this out.  Stick it out until the end.  This is a different sort of film from the man who gave us Gladiator and Alien, but in the end, you’ll feel redeemed.  This is one not to miss.


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