No offence to John Cusack, but I can't take him seriously in a neo-noir. It's not entirely his fault, though, because the characters seem overall a bit off (and whoever was responsible for the hairstyling... Yikes). What's worse is that this doesn't seem at all like a Jim Thompson story. The changes aren't huge, but they're enough to make the whole film seem mediocre at best, and the ending was completely botched.
One of the best neo-noirs. Anjelica Houston is terrific and it has a great score by Elmer Bernstein. Reminded me not of Jim Thomson, but rather Ernest Seton Thompson and his stories about animals, in particular the lives of solitary predators. Uncompromising in its bleak vision.
Sadly, they don't make movies like this anymore. A film noir gen written by Jim Thompson (who also wrote the The Getaway), it features sharp dialogue, crackling characters whom you never know are conning or being conned, and unexpected twists that, in noir tradition, lead to no good end for anyone. A simply told, unvarnished movie about greed and entrapment, embodied by Huston's caged animal of a character.
Left wondering what on earth I'd just watched, so I went to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grifters_(film): "The British filmmaker was drawn to Thompson's "tough and very stylistic" writing and described it, "as if pulp fiction meets Greek tragedy"." Ahhh, that makes more sense then.