Cage has knack for flawed characters
It’s a bit of a catch-22. I desperately want to find outthe history of the term “matchstick men” and how itcame to be synonymous with con-men, but since the release ofMatchstick Men, the movie, all of my Internet searches have come upwith nothing but sites about the movie.
Even Jeeves, that great oracle of all things cyberspace, couldnot satisfy my curiosity. Apparently, there was a boxer namedJohnny Owen who was often called “The Matchstick Man,”but I have a feeling that he’s not what I’m lookingfor.
History of the phrase aside, Matchstick Men is director RidleyScott’s first serious foray into the world of comedy.It’s somewhat difficult to believe that this is the same guywho directed movies like Blade Runner, Hannibal, and Gladiator.
Matchstick Men carries itself across the screen with alightheartedness due in no small amount to the startlingly goodperformances of Nicolas Cage and Alison Lohman, who, for a24-year-old actress, is actually very convincing as a 14year-old.
Matchstick Men tells the story of Roy (Cage), anobsessive-compulsive con artist (not a con man, a con artist).Together with his polar opposite partner Frank (Sam Rockwell), Royswindles the gullible and the greedy.
Outside of his “job,” though, Roy’s life is ashambles – he’s agoraphobic (he’s afraid to gooutside), he chain-smokes, and his refrigerator is full of nothingbut tuna fish.
When he’s not on the con, he’s scrubbing his housefrom top to bottom. This is Roy’s life.
Then, a daughter he didn’t know he had comes onto thescene. Angela (Lohman) is your typical teenage spitfire anddoesn’t fit into Roy’s immaculate way of life. But ashe grows to know his daughter and begins to introduce her into his”occupation,” Roy discovers that Angela has a lot toteach him about how to be a father and a human being.
Until 2002’s Adaptation, I wasn’t very fond ofNicolas Cage. He never felt very convincing to me when he played anaverage Joe Blow kind of guy. But as an imperfect hero, Cage trulybegins to shine.
Whether as the chronically self-conscious Charlie Kaufman inAdaptation or the compulsive Roy in Matchstick Men, Nic Cage hastruly developed a knack for portraying the characters with seriousflaws.
Cage obviously spent a lot of time working on Roy’scharacter — everything from his facial tics to the way heshouts “Pygmies!” whenever he gets upset ispainstakingly convincing.
To sum it all up, I need to ask myself “How good was thismovie?” Well, let’s just say this — the group ofobnoxious middle-schoolers who invariably end up sitting behind meat every movie I see only talked through half of the movie.
Matchstick Men is, in my estimation, one of the most solid,well-done movies in theaters right now. If you don’t believeme, you could always ask that slacker, Jeeves. Though I doubthe’ll know.