Focus, written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Focus has interesting, worthwhile moments and insight into the workings of the human mind, psychology disclosures.
At the same time, the film can be dismissed as preposterous, over the top, too inventive and artificial.
Margot Robbie is more than a revelation.
This superb artist is nominated for her role in the outstanding I, Tonia, for one Academy Award at the ceremony that will take place in just four days, 2018.
Margot Robbie has a memorable contribution as the once celebrated and then loathed ice skater Tonia Harding, a champion that went from glory to disgrace when she played a part in the serious injury of one of her American competitors.
In Focus, she plays Jess, with aplomb, skill and dedication, albeit she may also push boundaries a bit.
A biased opinion would have the more famous Will Smith responsible for this, with his own exaggerated acting.
Some may even laugh at his efforts at looking concentrated, pained, and affected by the serious betting he has to do.
On the other hand, it is also true that Will Smith has to play a con man, Nicky Spurgeon, who also has to act in the film, a sort of role within a role, with a man who is a confidence trickster and therefore he pretends for most of time to be an honest amateur better, or an employee of a formula one race team and so on.
The insight into how these people operate is interesting and ranges from the basic information one gets on the Discovery or National Geographic Channels, to the sophisticated knowledge of psychoanalysis.
Take the simple art of stealing and the advice given by Nicky to the less versed Jess and one can learn how to get a wallet by distracting the attention from one hand by pointing, doing things with the other.
The Nobel Prize Winner, Daniel Kahneman, considered the most influential living psychologist, explains in his fundamental, quintessential work Thinking Fast and Slow the two systems that we use when…thinking.
For instance, when driving and taking an especially difficult curve on the road, we are unable to do even simple math calculations, indeed, even when we walk and someone asks what is twelve times thirty, most of us would stop walking to be able to use the “slow system „in order to answer the question.
Imposters use the inability of the human mind to analyze the information faster in order to distract and then take advantage and appropriate everything, watch, bracelet, wallet, and rings with tremendous speed.
Swindlers are of course very skilled prestidigitators and one could think of…Bobby Deerfield, where a magician explains how he makes things appear and disappear with a very impressive, fast moving of a coin through all the fingers of the hand, operation that is impossible to perform for ordinary people.
Nicky and Jess work together in order to make money from various bystanders at a special event, but there seems to be a connection, a romance developing between them, only after intimate moments and apparent emotions, the insensitive, loathsome, cold, ruthless Nicky discards his partner without ceremony.
The wounded woman meets him again in Buenos Aires, on the side of a major Formula One race, where Nicky is trying to make millions from his usual illegal occupation, enticing one team to maneuver against another.
The idea seems preposterous and unbelievable, for it purports that Mercedes for instance, would pay three million to get a device that makes Red Bull go faster and use it then on its cars, it looks absurd.
Whereas the moving of wallets, rings and jewels in the first major scoundrels action, the one with the car race did not fly, especially when it suggests that all teams would just kill for such a thing, that is apparently not allowed and can easily be detected by supervisors of these races and the punishment is severe.
Anyway, the stealing, selling, marketing of this technology might be the sideshow, for we have a renaissance of the feelings between Nicky and Jess, with various Games that People Play, as in the definitive psychology work by Eric Berne.
There are many twists in the plot, which is actually to be expected, with one individual appearing to work for this team, only in reality to be hired by the competitor, some supposed humorous variety of explanations given by the last character that one would believe- Nicky of course, with his always-suffering face in this feature.
One could take great pleasure, if Smith is not closely watched, with his exaggerated, artificial face contortions, in the scene of the big bet, which ends up in a win of gargantuan proportions and the Conditioning of the target and especially its subconscious, with the figure Five, placed everywhere on its route, chandeliers, buttons, doormen, handkerchiefs and everything else…
Margot Robbie aka Jess shows in this motion picture that she has enormous talent, abilities that will give audiences the chance to admire her in the role of the complex, although uneducated, at times villainous, but also hard working, inventive, winning Tonia Harding.