18 feb 2022

5 (good) movies that magnify con artists

Con artists seem to fascinate films and series directors. On Netflix only over the past few months, the subscribers could watch Lords of Scam, the documentary The Tinder Swindler and the show Inventing Anna, which stages a young woman who tricked New York jetsetters. Here is an overview of five films about scammers as impressive as their ploys.

1. The Hustler (1961) by Robert Rossen


This breathtaking film is set in the intimist and shady atmosphere of gambling dens. The great Paul Newman stars as the brilliant yet impudent Eddie Felson, aka “Fast Eddie”, a pool hustler who tricks beginners into thinking he doesn’t know how to play in order to higher the stakes and rip them off. After throwing himself up against a legendary pool champion, he loses everything and develops a taste for revenge. As a true black and white masterpiece, magnified by Paul Newman’s beauty, this dramatic movie unveils the tricks of a scam that will eventually bring about the protagonist’s and his alcoholic girlfriend’s downfall. One last recommendation? Watch the sequel to that movie, The Color of Money (1986), directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise.

2. Heartbreaker (2010) by Pascal Chaumeil


Acclaimed by the public and the critics, Heartbreaker’s qualities pile up. Funny, flowing, fanciful, inventive, and well- played, the film offers one of the best duos witnessed in French comedy for the last fifteen years. Vanessa Paradis and Romain Duris give the best of themselves with the roles of the victim and the romantic con artist. The plot revolves around Alex (Romain Duris), a professional relationships breaker who, in exchange of money, can make his prey forget about any other previous love story she might have. Yet, the Don Juan will eventually lose himself in his own game and fall for the woman he is supposed to trick: the magnetic Juliette (V anessa Paradis). As the romantic idyll occurs in front of us, the audience soon falls under the spell of this spicy and spirited movie that has nothing to be ashamed of in comparison to the best American romcoms.

3. I Love You Phillip Morris (2010) by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

Starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, I Love You Phillip Morris is an exhilarating and burlesque gem, similar to Catch Me If You Can (2002). The film tells us about the crazy but true story of Steven Russell (Jim Carrey), a former cop and insurance scammer in love with his fellow inmate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). Steven, who cannot bear being separated from the love of his life, uses numerous ploys in an attempt to free Phillip from prison – using police database, posing as a lawyer, then as Chief Financial Officer of a medical management company thanks to a fake curriculum, and embezzling money. Despite his crimes, the hero stands as a touching con artist and king of bluff because each one of his actions stem from love.

4. American Bluff (2014) by David O’Russell

This glamourous kitsch and almost parodical movie is about a brilliant and attractive couple of hustlers, a manipulative FBI agent, an annoying mafioso and a corrupted politician. If one adds to that colorful portrait gallery an accurate re-enactment of the American society in the 70s and a prestigious cast (Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro), one can guess why American Bluff was the center of attention when it was released in 2014.

5. Diversion (2015) by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa



Lighthearted, fun, and sexy, Diversion owes its appeal to the duo Margot Robbie and Will Smith, whose chemistry is undeniably strong on screen. They deliver an outstanding interpretation of a talented professional hustler and an apprentice criminal playing hide and seek. Will Smith shines in his Arsène Lupin-like role of a casual and elegant gentleman thief, while the charismatic Margot Robbie brings a feminist touch to the scenario as she rises to, and even outgrows, her male counterpart. As a mix of humor, suspense, action, romantic and professional scams, this thriller also charms us thanks to its sweet escapes in New Orleans and in Argentina.