Focus (2001)



Critic Consensus: Though full of good intentions, Focus somehow feels dated, and pounds away its points with a heavy hand.

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Movie Info

In New York, during the height of World War II, an American community begins to unravel when a man and his wife become victims of mistaken identity. Lawrence Newman is an ordinary man who does not want to stand out in a dangerous world. Even when a woman is attacked outside his Brooklyn window, he remains quiet about what he saw, unwilling to make waves and so fearful, he even begins to question what he truly saw. But then unassuming Newman and his outspoken new wife, Gertrude, become caught up in a case of mistaken identity. Slowly ostracized at home and work, they learn the value of solidarity as they struggle to maintain their dignity while confronting their nation's lurking anti-Semitism. The unwitting focus of his neighbor's prejudice, Newman is faced with a choice: go down as a coward or take a long shot at becoming the unlikeliest of heroes by telling the truth.
PG-13 (for thematic material, violence and some sexual content)
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Written By:
In Theaters:

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William H. Macy
as Lawrence Newman
Laura Dern
as Gertrude Hart
David Paymer
as Finkelstein
Meat Loaf
as Fred
Kay Hawtrey
as Mrs. Newman
Kay Hewtrey
as Mrs. Newman
Kenneth Welsh
as Father Crighton
Arlene Meadows
as Mrs. Dewitt
Peter Oldring
as Willy Doyle
Robert McCarrol
as Meeting Hall Man
Kevin Jubinville
as Cole Stevens
Conrad Bergschneider
as Tough's Leader
Brad Austin
as 1st Tough
Betariz Pizano
as Rape Victim
Rick Braggins
as Mr. Lorring
Rodger Barton
as Sergeant
Andrew Massingham
as Policeman
Bryon Billy
as Billy
Anita Burkhart
as Speaking Woman on Subway
Olivia Slavin
as Mrs. Dewitt's Granddaughter
Wendy Lyon
as Elsie
Angela Fusco
as 2nd Woman on Subway
Stephen Brogren
as Bodyguard
Paulette Sinclair
as MP Receptionist
Pat Patterson
as Green Grocer
Julia Paton
as Waitress
Leo Petrus
as Truck Driver
Durward Allen
as Photographer
Peter Evans
as Man in Theater
Tedde Moore
as Woman No.1 in Theater
Anna Louise Richardson
as Woman No. 2 in Theater
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Critic Reviews for Focus

All Critics (81) | Top Critics (28)

It serves as a forceful reminder of how small a difference there can be between unity and bigotry.

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

No actor in the movies could have played this part better than Macy.

January 4, 2002
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Focus is well-meaning, but it's all looks with no substance.

November 16, 2001
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A powerful though overwrought study of bigotry and fear.

Full Review… | November 16, 2001
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

The topic certainly suits the times, but the director's approach is as alienating as it is old-fashioned.

November 9, 2001
Washington Post
Top Critic

A rather square civics lesson of a movie.

Full Review… | November 9, 2001
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Focus


Important prejudice parable based on the Arthur Miller novel. Despite its giant plot holes, fine performances create a thought-provoking study of dangerous cultural tribalism.

Richard McCarty
Richard McCarty

This movie was so true to the book that I felt like I had seen it before. The book was a little more detailed, so I have to say I liked that better. However the movie was very well acted and captured the right feel and emotion.

Sarah Prisbylla
Sarah Prisbylla

Super Reviewer


I think that they need to show this movie in every Sociology class. It's a perfect example of how, for example, Hitler's Germany was even possible. It shows how easily people can be manipulated and influenced by hateful thinking in society. It was an apalling thing to watch unfold, and intensify, but it was at the same time an amazing thing to watch. Scary, but amazing. ..On a side note, William H. Macy was fantastic, as usual.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

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