Film Review: Focus


Focus is a slick and entertaining thriller. Despite some predictability, the film is sufficiently engaging.

Veteran con man Nicky takes on newcomer Jess as an intern. The pair get close, as Nicky attempts to pull off a series of cons and thefts. His relationship with Jess makes a future job more complicated…

Writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa had success with 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. This feature is perhaps not quite as endearing as their last, but it is an entertaining film. Focus relies on the crux of not taking anything at face value. Thus, the audience is welcome to second guess every twist and turn in the narrative.

The main characters are not very compelling, but function suitably to keep the viewer engaged in the action. The relationship between Nicky and Jess is underpinned by the frailty of trust. At the beginning of Focus, viewers are positioned with Jess in observing and evaluating the sincerity of Nicky. Later on, the lines are more blurred.

The con at the centre of the film tries to keep the audience on their toes. he twists that appear throughout the film are a little predictable to those who have been paying attention. There are some show pieces in Focus that work quite well. The cons are explained in detail; viewers will no doubt spot a con, but perhaps not exactly how it has been executed. The need to unravel the sting means a fair bit of exposition. Likewise, conversations between Nicky and Jess are populated with indicators of what is to come.

Focus‘ production design offers a glossy image. There is little assaugement from the polished wealth on display. The soundtrack works well, if a little overused in some scenes. Will Smith offers a decent performance as Nicky, relying on charm to fill in the blanks of the character. Margot Robbie is not really stretched by the role of Jess.

Ultimately, Focus thinks it is cleverer than it actually is. Brush this aside, and the film is an enjoyable watch.

Film Review: Crazy Stupid Love

Slightly overlong and at times cloying, nonetheless Crazy Stupid Love is an enjoyable movie. It won’t be for everyone, but romantic film fans should enjoy it.

Cal is shocked when his wife Emily asks him for a divorce seemingly out of the blue. Having been with his high school sweetheart for most of his life, Cal is suddenly thrown back into the single life a middle-aged man. He meets Jacob at the bar, a young bachelor who has no problems attracting women. As Jacob helps Cal come to terms with dating, it is Jacob who meets his match…

Crazy Stupid Love is in some ways typical of the rom-com genre with its style of humour. There are some amusing incidents and jokes in the film. Nevertheless, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s film is more reflective than some of the mindless fluff that populates the rom-com genre. While the movie retains the fantasy air expected of it, the theme of love is dealt with in a more well-rounded manner.

The film can be very sentimental on occasion. Those who do not buy into Crazy Stupid Love may find it cheesy. Viewers who embrace the movie, however, may shed a tear at the most emotional moments. In some ways, it offers the audience everything it would expect, although the film is crafted well enough that it can be forgiven for this.

The pacing of Crazy Stupid Love could have been tightened. The film goes on for a bit too long, and does not end when it is expected to. Nonetheless, what entertains viewers is the three-strand format. Given the theme of the film, these three strands cover different times. This offers viewers different point of identification, giving most people at least one character to empathise with. Frequently it is the Robbie, the young boy, whose tale is most endearing.

The chemistry between the cast is great, and really shows through on screen. This is particularly true of Ryan Gosling’s Jacob and Emma Stone’s Hannah; the couple really sizzle. Elsewhere performances are good. Julianne Moore is solid as ever as Emily, while Jonah Bobo offers a touching portrayal as Robbie.

Crazy Stupid Love features slick production values that are in keeping with its Los Angeles setting. The film really plays up Jacob’s heartthrob role with the choice of camera shots and music. Overall, Crazy Stupid Love should make viewers laugh and reflect. Those who find Hollywood romances grating should avoid.