Since the pandemic, many are obsessed with getting their affairs in order and why not? There is nothing worse than having someone take advantage of what is left behind (especially money)and you no longer have a say in how it goes down or do you?
When this movie begins, audiences are duped into thinking they are about to watch a romantic comedy – film noir style with Black people. While you are rooting for Sandra and Tom to find love and live happily ever after – Bam! You realize it might be a little more complicated than an impromptu date.
Ambition, greed, lust and jealousy take center stage as a group of ruthless strivers compete for riches and power in Sharper, a neo-noir thriller set in the bedrooms, barrooms and boardrooms of New York City. Everyone is out for themselves and no one is exactly who they seem as a bookstore owner, a PhD. candidate, a business magnate, an elegant socialite and her ne’er-do-well son collide in a high- stakes game that will keep audiences guessing until the very last secret is revealed.
Giving me vibes of The Grifters meet To Catch a Thief, Benjamin Caron’s direction combined with cinematic skills of Charlotte Bruus Christensen alongside Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka’s screenplay not only make this a smart film, but a visual cornucopia to witness with so many twists and turns you’ll get whiplash.
Broken down into chapters, the audience is let in on the grift from each character’s perspective, how they got there and where they will ultimately wind up. It’s an interesting insight on how the lives of these five New Yorkers interconnect and mask up to get what they want. After all, none of us are the same person to everyone. It’s natural to give ourselves a professional or social advantage by behaving in a certain way and some folks may even do it for nefarious and sinisterly selfish reasons.
This brilliantly gifted cast led by Julianne Moore (Madeline) and Sebastian Stan turn Sharper into the nail biting suspense filled drama I didn’t know I needed. Briana Middleton (Sandra) and Justice Smith (Tom) are not only holding their on but taking it up a notch with the manner in which they inhabit the tortured souls of Sandra and Tom. Keep your eyes peeled for those as they are just on the precipice of even greater things to come. It goes without saying that when John Lithgow hits the screen in his all too powerful but brief appearance his presence already adds to A+ cast.
Each character is uniquely flawed, but none more so than Madeline.“ Madeline is addicted to winning and obsessively seeks power,” explains Caron. “She expresses her vulnerability by exerting it over everyone who comes into her circle. ” Julianne Moore is simply perfection with a nuanced performance unlike none I have seen her inhabit to date.
What is also quite lovely is that we very rarely see these types of complex plot point centered around people of color as leading characters. Often times, those types of characters are relegated to supporting with no real substance. Tom and Sandra not only have substance, but a back story that will curl your hair!
We are conditioned to respond positively to stories of reinvention. Transformation in Sharper is a weapon of treachery, where sexual politics and trust build, like a poker game in which the stakes become higher by the second.
Produced by A24 and streaming on Apple TV +, Sharper will leave you breathless and exhilarated with a story inhabited and performed by some of the best Hollywood has to offer.