Sharper (2023)

Sharper (2023)

2023 R 116 Minutes

Crime | Drama | Thriller

A small, wealthy family in New York City gets progressively torn apart by secrets, lies, and the theft that orchestrates all of it.

Overall Rating

6 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • d_riptide

    d_riptide

    6 / 10
    For all the things that make 𝐒𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐩𝐞𝐫 ‘sharp’, there’s just as many things about the experience that not only dull the tip of the blade but hinder the potentially baroque nature of what it aims to be.⁣


    Should I praise the cavalcade of performances wrapped with artifice and charm, the vignette plot structure that, at least, doesn’t have to break itself into pieces to construct a intriguing narrative or the visual aesthetic that emphasizes this sleek, glossy commercialized ardor that sells itself as an artifice for how soulless these characters and their motivations are in this cutthroat world? After all, there’s also the cinematography which is shot in a shimmering widescreen format that looks great alongside the sleek production values that highlight the characters scenarios beautifully; of course the editing has to work in conjunction with that too and it’s done well enough. ⁣

    It makes due with its elaborately constructed pace and tone so that there was rarely a dull moment and the best that I can give the musical score is that it works; sets the mood and catches us up to speed and nothing more.⁣


    Now I see what they were trying to do with this story: using its non-linear style to introduce all the players at hand so that when all the pieces congeal together, the climax will play out more like a game of chess than your typical Clue extravaganza. It wants to be David Mamet so badly, playing around with the polished surfaces of spaces where wealthy people dwell, where even the scammers can’t escape their guilty pleasures, always getting greedy and go one step too far with their endeavors, and the writers make damn sure to mirror that same behavior without having it grow out of control. Everyone plays on the edge of a blade and nobody gets out unscathed without a wound or two. ⁣

    But leads me to the biggest detriment that works against this movie: it’s nowhere near as smart or clever as it wants to be. ⁣

    It’s more plain than titillating and more predictable than mysterious, and all this Russian-doll plotting of elaborate scams feels quaint in comparison to other examples of the genre, not exactly weaponizing it’s myriad simplicity to best of its ability. Not that that’s terrible; it starts off solidly enough but if you’re going to make a con movie, the audience should not be able to sense it coming a mile off and ruin the surprise. The thematic focus of the script keeps adding layers upon layers to an already small-scale story and the focus constantly switches this vignette structure to the point where it barely stretches credulity by the end. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if the characters weren’t so shallowly drawn; they’re two dimensional at best so maybe not getting attached was the right call but they elevate the material less than the actors portraying them. ⁣

    Dialogue is far from dreadful but still falls short of elevating the film beyond its foundation and same with Ben Carson’s directing, as it lacks any dramatic tension and suspense that Andor thrived in despite the basic foundation. Song choices were weirdly placed, I hardly sensed anything atmospheric throughout the runtime, costumes are notwithstanding and…..well, lot of people have criticized this film settling on a rather befuddling ending that should’ve known better than to pull its punches and……yeah, they’re not wrong. ⁣


    For a thriller that wants to mimic the David Mamet style and screenplay, it falls short in executing the tough-talking puzzle movie genre despite being a decent thriller through and through. It still made for an entertaining two hours and I have no regrets.