What to Watch This Weekend: Sharper

NOTE: To avoid spoilers, the summary section of this coverage describing the story has been purposely truncated.

Sharper is a story of grifters. Told in a series of interconnected vignettes, the first chapter focuses on Tom (Justice Smith). Tom is the owner of a bookstore who has been battling with depression. One day, Sandra (Briana Middleton) enters Tom’s life and the two discover they have several things in common. A mutual attraction leads to more, and quickly. However, as the two discover information about the other’s past, a larger scheme unravels.

What works in Sharper are the complex, engaging characters and a well-woven mystery. First, the ensemble is impressive. Joining Smith and Middleton are Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Pam and Tommy), Julianna Moore (Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski), and John Lithgow (The Old Man, The Crown). While each of these five major characters’ screen-time varies, director Benjamin Caron (Andor) takes great care to give each performer room to provide depth. This is important in a twisty tale such as Sharper as it lets the audience a) become invested, and b) understand and/or accept each characters’ motivation. As such, the overall experience is relatively tight—the reveals and turns make sense in the context of the personalities and the story, thus leading to a satisfying conclusion.

Individuals who don’t enjoy seeing people getting taken advantage of may not enjoy Sharper as much as others. At some point during Sharper audiences will simply have to accept that everyone is lying. All the time. About everything. Naturally, this could very quickly become tedious and/or frustrating. And it’s not so much that Sharper doesn’t have characters to root for—it’s that the “good” people consistently become embroiled in situations that you just wish they were a bit smarter to recognize at the outset. Furthermore, it is possible for a narrative to be so curvaceous it becomes convoluted and Sharper definitely skirts that line.

Sharper is a fresh entry in a well-defined genre. Thanks to a dedicated cast, there’s a fun ride to be had as so long as one doesn’t look hard behind the curtain. While it likely won’t be a standout in its field, Sharper provides a decent night’s entertainment.

Recommended if you Enjoyed: Confidence, Focus, Entrapment

Sharper is now available to stream on Apple TV.  

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