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Movie Review: ‘Matchstick Men’ is the perfect con

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By Kelly Dolejsi

I love a good con, at least onscreen, and Ridley Scott’s “Matchstick Men” (2003, rated PG-13), on the “big” screen this week at Mesa Public Library, is a pretty fantastic con.
It tells the deviant story of Roy (Nicolas Cage), one of those rare con artists who has to open the door exactly three times before letting a guest in the house, a spotless environs where the guest must immediately remove his shoes and vigorously disinfect the receiver after using the phone.
Without medication, he’s compulsive to the point of being disabled, so when he loses his pills, he quickly deteriorates into a huge liability for his “business” partner Frank (Sam Rockwell).
Frank, a seemingly longtime protégé and the closest thing to a friend Roy has, connects Roy to a psychiatrist, drugs, and, ultimately, to Roy’s daughter, a 14-year-old girl who was still a zygote when her mother and Roy parted ways.
To return the favor, Roy agrees to take part in a “long con,” a more complicated version of the duo’s standard short-term cons, that Roy was initially reluctant to do.
Alison Lohman is fascinating as Roy’s daughter. The 24-year-old actress does a credible job of playing a young teen, at once charmingly innocent and charmingly corrupt. And funny, too — her character teases Roy about everything from the crazy non-pizza things old people like to eat for dinner to his more extreme issues, such as being afraid of parks.
He needs that kind of confrontation, and she provides it in the way only a newly discovered teenage daughter can.
“Matchstick Men” screens at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, in the upstairs meeting room theater at Mesa Public Library as part of the Free Film Series.
The free series presents a movie the first Thursday of every month, thanks to the Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries.
For more information, call 662-8240.