"A sucker born every minute, huh?" "And two to take him!" So goes one of the greatest exchanges between con-man (Mantegna) and conned-woman (Crouse) in David Mamet's directorial debut, ten years ago. It might be you that plays the sucker, though (and I mean that in a good way), after indulging in Mamet's triple-crossed tale of "dinosaur con-men" having their proverbial way with a hapless (and wealthy) psychotherapist. Mamet's signature staccato dialogue is nailed to perfection, especially by Mantegna, in the performance that put him on the map. No aspect of the film has avoided a clever touch, from the upbeat-yet-creepy piano music, to the wickedly low lighting, to the irony of Mamet casting his own wife in the role of a woman obsessed with the confidence game. House of Games makes a powerful impact, but, inexplicably, it was completely ignored in theatrical release. Its twists and turns may leave you a little shaken up by the delicious ending, but you'll inevitably take to heart one of Mantegna's principles of conduct: "Don't trust nobody."
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