House Of Games

1987, Movie, R, 102 mins

Review

HOUSE OF GAMES
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The extraordinary first film from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet, HOUSE OF GAMES is a stylish cinematic puzzle. Dr. Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse), a psychologist and best-selling author of a book on obsessive behavior, ventures into the world of confidence games to try to help out a patient whose gambling has gotten him in over his head. Her excursion brings her in contact with Mike (Joe Mantegna), a con man who engineers a back-room hustle that almost leaves Margaret $6,000 poorer. Instead of being angry, she is attracted to this streetwise philosopher and his world and returns to get to know him and it better. In the process she becomes involved in an elaborate con game revolving around a suitcase full of cash supposedly borrowed from the mob. The plot grows increasingly convoluted until Margaret--and the audience--no longer knows who is conning whom--that is, until the shocking climax.

Mamet has created a suspenseful, psychologically complex film that constantly plays tricks on the viewer as it draws him into its milieu of insightful deceit. Crouse and Mantegna are outstanding, and the supporting performances are all first rate. In the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, Mamet worked from his own storyboards, and he and cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia have created a visually stunning film that is the equal of his airtight screenplay. leave a comment

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