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USA 1987
Directed by
David Mamet
102 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

House Of Games

This Mamet-scripted mystery/thriller was originally intended to get the Hollywood star treatment with Peter Yates at the helm however Mamet took on the directorial role for the first time and the result is a modest gem with plot twists and turns aplenty and it remains Mamet's most appealing film, his penchant for the mannered, only marginally noticeable here getting greater his subsequent efforts

Lindsay Crouse, who was Mamet's wife at the time, plays a female celebrity psychologist specializing in addictive behaviour who gets drawn into the world of confidence trickery. The con men are headed up by Joe Mantegna who had worked with Mamet in the latter's stage productions and feature quite few players who would become regular faces in Mamet’s subsequent films including a small role for William H. Macy.

The plot, from a story by Jonathan Katz, is eminently suited to Mamet’s love of the games people play and further embellished by his trademark rhythmical dialogue. Aside from the sheer pleasure of the game itself Mamet also draws a broad analogy between the role of the confidence trickster and the psychologist, and clearly has little time for the institutionally-sanctioned duplicity of the latter. Although Crouse is rather inert throughout the film and because it is so plot-dependent it gives its greatest yield on the first viewing, this is still an entertaining ensemble effort. 




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