Movie Psychology Paper (Matchstick Men)

Read Complete Research Material

Movie Psychology Paper (Matchstick Men)

Ridley Scott's Matchstick Men ends perfectly because, for the first time in its nearly two-hour length, the film finally realizes that its dramatic virtues lie in its family drama roots, not its forced genre of the conman film. The only problem is that, once looking beyond the satisfaction felt by a great finale, one wishes that such a screenwriting epiphany had happened earlier.

Conmen films are a dime a dozen these days, and the best remain those that can overcome the hindrances of overblown intelligence and tiresome trickery. The genre is pained by filmmakers who consider themselves so much smarter than the target audience that they fail to notice that there's little to the work outside of some twists and turns. The Score and Ocean's 11 showed recently that there's a place for genre films in high art, even when the genre is negligible and the art is a bit too commercial for the Guggenheim.

Matchstick Men is part of the pack, allowing itself to devolve into another one of those con games that involves twists visible for anyone watching with half-interest. It's dénouement comes with the flush of the score, the shakiness of the camera, the up tempo of the editing. All this sound and fury, but it all merits none. This is a simple film that considers itself to be better, which can be the most egregious offence a filmmaker and screenwriter can make.

Thankfully, there's another film entirely keeping Matchstick Men from joining a pantheon of rickety superiority dramas like Patch Adams and The Life of David Gale. The family drama that couples with the conman film in Matchstick Men is thoroughly compelling, built on great performances that correspond with clear, concise writing and a level of maturity that never elevates itself above the audience.

The key subplot in this story about conmen getting ready for a big job that will leave them both without any financial worries, is that of the budding relationship between the senior conman, Roy Waller (Cage), and the 14-year-old daughter, Angela (Lohman), who he finally meets for the first time. He suffers from agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder, among other psychological ailments, leading him to a psychiatrist who believes that his past mistakes as a husband have left Roy unable to cope with his present existence. He contacts Angela's mother, who left while she was pregnant, so that father and daughter can finally meet.

Inside this story is a pitch-perfect dissemination of anxiety and pleasure involved in such a new relationship between a father-daughter pair without anything in common, trying to forge something out of nothing. She wants to learn the tricks of the trade (he uneasily acquiesces), he wants to understand himself in a new context. If neither fully attains their aspirations, it is from the amount of apprehension they brought into the formula.

And then the film attempts to implausibly reverse its mechanizations of greatness for the complicated formulas of its con. I felt uneasy accepting the film as it was, but I ...
Related Ads