Sharper Review

Home » Blogs » Sharper Review

Similarly to Westworld and Dollhouse, the 2022 A24 thriller Sharper cannot help but overuse instances in which a character is not who they pretend to be and has nothing new to bring to keep our interest as the action moves forward. When the revelation loses its suddenness, this leaves a sense of cautionary fatigue behind. Nobody wants to feel like a duck soup.

This is problematic when the movie aims for The Spanish Prisoner’s intricate high-stakes intrigue, without David Mamet’s bristle dialogue or his superb twists. Instead, Sharper uses multiple nested flashbacks and flash-forwards revolving around various characters showing how they created intricate lies that are successful with their targets yet are never completely credible enough to pull one along.

The story begins by following Tom (Justice Smith), an emotionally vulnerable bookshop owner who appears to find his soul mate in Sandra (Brianna Middleton). After she breaks his heart and steals $350,000 from him, it changes gear from being a whirlwind romance into painting a complex picture of deceit. Although predictable, the performances still charm.

Max (Sebastian Stan) is one such character; he oozes sleazy charisma throughout while keeping his real self hidden all along. John Lithgow has been given very few lines as Richard – Tom’s father who disapproves of hedge fund billionaires – however even during these intervals he manages to combine charm with threats; this blend of characteristics has become Lithgow’s trademark over time. Julianne Moore seems delighted by playing manipulative temptress Madeline—Richard’s new wife—in what appears as another chance for her come up.

Every fair play mystery includes an ending where all those clues that were openly displayed earlier in plain sight can be seen coming together – satisfyingly. By structuring Sharper like this way director Benjamin Caron and writers Brian Gatewood & Alessandro Tanaka repeat that process many times, showing how the manipulators learned and rehearsed what to say to each other. Also, this is a device for showing off the actors’ versatility—Middleton who’s a newbie, brings tenderness in dealing with Smith and then fierceness when she interacts with Max.

The opening of Sharper is quite pretentious as it shows the process of assembling a Rolex—the bait that is used by the con-artists representing wealth accumulation and also supposed to present its own story as being well planned. In Sharper however, Caron’s work ends up looking like some sort of neo-noir knock-off and falls apart towards its end; suddenly these opportunists who live by their wits have become too gullible to be trusted making them fail to think on their feet.

As Max says, “You can’t cheat an honest man” but why then would it seem easier for one con artist to dupe another when most of these failures occur because they adopt the clichéd trope that baddies always turn against one another? Rather than appearing as another part of the Hollywood morality code, Sharper might have been a stronger film if it embraced ambiguity.

Even so, Sharper is an extremely attractive work to behold. It was full of the same sort of long establishing shots which Caron made great use of in his Star Wars: Andor episodes. These seem mainly concerned with New York’s tunnels and skyscraper tops’ views that visually represent a divide between underworld villains and suckers up there, underscored by moody synth-heavy Clint Mansell, who has frequently worked together with Darren Aranofsky.

Nonetheless, the aforementioned statement is not exhaustive. Max coaches Sandra in such a way that whenever she is answering questions, she keeps them uncertain enough to look like a well-rounded scholar even though her knowledge only goes as deep as quotes lifted from books or movies without understanding them at all. The metaphor extends to cover Sharper itself; it is slick but shallow movie whose story doesn’t really hold water.


Visually stylish and driven by some great performances from Sebastian Stan, Julianne Moore, and Brianna Middleton, Sharper becomes too predictable with its con-artist thriller genre that repeatedly overuses these plot twists until they become completely meaningless; additionally the initially smart characters get conned too easily afterward. This transparent storyline and clumsily executed ending make it an unsatisfying mystery at all.

Also, Read On Fmovies

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *