By: Reel Dialogue
In this new world of cinematic releases, audiences must stay aware of where some of the best productions are being accessed.
Despite not making their way to cinemas, the streaming services deliver some of the best viewing options, and Apple manages to find great projects. Shaper boasts a stellar cast, and with the celebrated director Benjamin Caron at the helm, this reverse-engineered grifter’s tale does prove to be a must-see.
For the benefit of all who love a clever psychological thriller, there will be very few spoilers offered up for our readers. This twisted journey occurs within the world of billionaires and those who hope to gain access to their riches by working the long and short con. Tom Hobbes (Justice Smith) looks to be an easy mark since he is the son of self-made billionaire, Richard Hobbes (John Lithgow). Even though he falls for the beautiful and engaging Sandra (Briana Middleton), there has to be apprehension about her sudden connection with the bookstore owner. As things progress through their story, a tangled web of deceit unfolds, involving Max (Sebastian Stan) and Madeline (Julianne Moore) in brilliantly unexpected ways.
Most tales of grifters go down one of two pathways: the audience will cheer for can artists as they deceive a deserving mark or become vilified for stealing from the wrong person. What is different about this sorted ordeal is how Caron takes Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka’s screenplay and unpacks it slowly. Each layer is broken up by chapter breaks that expose more of the backstory to increase the tension and the unlikely storyline tracks. Every time the viewer thinks they have things figured out, there is a new nugget of truth that subtly makes all involved second guess what the end will hold for all involved.
Sebastian Stan has managed to remaster his career as he goes from the anti-hero of the Marvel Universe as the Winter Soldier. Each choice in his filmography conveys a desire to show that he is more than a hero as he embodies the villainous side of his career. Along with a stand-out performance from Julianne Moore, the whole cast makes each character believable. The only problem with the method of storytelling used, there needs to be more of each character. Benjamin Caron does the rare directorial technique of leaving the viewer wanting more of each character while delivering a marvellously well-rounded film. This is no con, my friends, Sharper is worth discovering.
The beauty of grifter’s tales is that they prove something wrong with this world. The moral ambiguity of the people’s choices in these con artists’ adventures may be challenging to stomach, but it is not hard to understand. The discomfort may come from asking where we determine truth.
In this world where everyone has an opinion about every moral stance, it has become critical to figure out how to answer this philosophical question. The answer can be found in studying the person of Jesus. Not that it is a simple answer, but as you look into his life and death the answer will be evident. Pick up one of the accounts of his life and see how God answers this multi-layered query with one man.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
Images: Movie Stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.