Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Matchstick Men (2003)
12 Contains strong language and some mild violence

When it comes to neuroses, Roy makes Woody Allen look like the Dalai Lama.

He's the obsessive-compulsive conman played by Nicolas Cage, in Ridley Scott's enticing but defective dramedy Matchstick Men.

When he's working a scam, it's not the cops Roy gets antsy about, but the microbes floating around in the air. Everywhere. Right now. Out to get you.

His partner-in-crime and brash protégé Frank (Sam Rockwell) worries that Roy's multitudinous tics and phobias are eventually going to land them in hot water. To compound the problem, Roy's shrink (Bruce Altman) reunites him with his 14-year-old daughter Angela (Alison Lohman), and it's not long before she's kipping on the couch.

She upsets Roy's carefully balanced pattern of existence with her clutter and bad table manners, and threatens to blow the biggest swindle of his and Frank's joint career.

The premise is beguiling: Cage tortured with twitches, having to balance parental responsibilities with his commitment to ripping off hardworking Joes. It's fun for a while, but something's got to give.

Disappointingly the same goes for the plot. It engages you with the deepening bond between father and daughter, but then late in the game, Scott takes his eye off the ball and leaves their relationship up in the air.

It's the casting that provides balance, and low-key laughs. Cage's portrayal of OCD is a corker (whilst never insensitive), but he also makes a great straight-man for Rockwell's irresistible cocksure wiseass. In newcomer Alison Lohman you'll see a star being born, as she pulls it all together with sheer magnetism.

This being a Ridley Scott film, it's packed with brilliant visual sparks too. It's just a pity he flips the switch on the leading light of the story at its most critical point. Now, if Roy were directing, he'd have flipped that switch at least three times to make sure it was in perfect working order...

End Credits

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Nicholas Griffin, Ted Griffin

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Alison Lohman, Sam Rockwell, Bruce Altman, Bruce McGill

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Length: 116 minutes

Cinema: 26 September 2003

Country: USA

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