The Sting (1973)

The Sting details a major con operation by two grifters attempting to take out a mob boss.

Ok, here’s the thing: I really enjoyed The Sting but I don’t know why there was just something that kept me from fully embracing it. I guess a large part of it has got to do with me blowing my nose every five minutes but it just didn’t make me go OMG. Still, there are a lot of things to admire about the film. Being a sucker for costumes and set designs, I can assure you I enjoyed myself a fair bit watching the characters change through their various suits and hats. The designs weren’t anything fancy or detailed, but I just loved how sharp and sleek everything was, which is very fitting to tone of the whole film.

The direction was fine; The various chase sequences, especially the toilet cubical one, were well-shot and some scenes like the train poker scene were pretty suspenseful. I actually enjoyed the simplicity of the direction, considering how the plot itself is complicated enough with the various twists and turns (I sorta suspected the Loreatta twist and the ending, but they were great nonetheless).  I’m glad that the director didn’t try to go for anything too fanciful or ostentatious and relied on the story itself to set the tone of the film. Like I said, the whole movie is cool, smooth, and stylish to watch. There’s really nothing wrong with it overall.

The actors are very good but yes, I’ll agree with the criticisms that there isn’t much room for character development in a movie like this. Still, it really didn’t bother me that much because I felt that the film is good enough as it is. Robert Redford received a best actor nod for his performance, which is okay, but somehow I just wasn’t taken by him completely. Actually, I think his character is more complex than it seems but somehow I felt that he didn’t completely bring out that side of the character. He delivered his lines perfectly, he was charming, manipulative and cool (he was really handsome when he was young), and even attempted to layer his performance a little by showing Johnny’s flaws and impulsiveness. Still, I felt that he was a bit overshadowed by Newman and Shaw, both whom were brilliant despite their limited roles. Eileen Brennan was surprisingly memorable in her tiny role, like in The Last Picture Show. What a great actress she was.

All in all, I enjoyed The Sting a lot, and actually I really didn’t have much to fault the film for. It is well-made, well-directed, well-written and well-acted. Maybe it’s because the story just didn’t suck me in fully, and I need more time to think about the film (I just finished watching it before writing this post) but I still respect it a lot and have no problem giving it a strong 4/5.

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