House of Games - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

House of Games Reviews

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March 8, 2016
David Mamet's directing debut is a wickedly clever, poker-faced thriller about con artists, with high stakes, second-guessing, and twists.
January 26, 2016
Can't recommend this highly enough - very well-scripted thriller,perfectly paced and well-acted; plus it has a very stylish poker game; which is always a plus. A few moments of poor acting, but only from very minor characters.
½ December 23, 2015
It's a great directorial debut for Mamet. It almost convinced me, but the narrative and its predictability fall apart towards the end. Still, House of Games is enticing, tense and carries great visuals.
October 18, 2015
Probably the best con artist movie out there, and most haven't heard of it. Joe Mantegna destroys this role, you cant get any closer to a perfect performance then this. Most movies of this type feel over the top as if there from another underground world. This feels so real it makes you believe it could happen to you.
Robert B.
Super Reviewer
October 2, 2015
House of Games is one odd thriller. The world it takes place in feels empty; the whole thing seems to happen during off-hours. The vibe is on the laid back side, and carries the suggestion that one relax and be charmed by a bit of showmanship. Yet the film watches quick; the dialogue is all about making contact and moving the action. The delivery is artificially clever and dramatic. The characters feel so distant that I was not going to rate this up much, but then thought about it and realized the film still has a lot of good points to it. Recommended to those who enjoy character studies and a good magic trick.
September 27, 2015
When I first saw this movie in 1987 I thought it was a brilliantly clever thriller, compromised by a very wooden central performance. Seeing it again, almost thirty years later, I realise I was wrong: it's a so-so thriller, compromised by several very wooden performances and lumbering direction by its writer. A movie that is crying out for a decent remake with good actors.
August 23, 2015
Dr. Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse) has it all. A world famous psychologist, she has recently become a best-selling author for her acclaimed self-help guide; money visits her bank account like a pestering pack of termites. Most would find her status enviable, but an inscrutable discontent jangles around in her psyche on the daily. She chain smokes not out of enjoyment but out of boredom, as if it's the only sort of release she finds in her comfortably mundane life.
A rush of adrenaline comes out of nowhere one afternoon when a young patient admits that his pressing anxiety is not a matter of mental health but of fiscal responsibility. A compulsive gambler, he owes a sinister figure named Mike (Joe Mantegna) $15,000. If he fails to meet Mike's demands, his short life will end with a quick blast and a shallow grave. He's terrified.
Seeing opportunity to further her psychiatric knowledge, Margaret decides to take matters into her own hands and confront Mike at the House of Games, a gambling joint stationed in the seedy part of town. Dressed sleekly and clutching her cigarette like a gun, she looks like a femme fatale hungry for an entree of trouble - and, during her consequent meeting with Mike, she maintains an authoritative confidence sexy in its feral sharpness. But Mike isn't impressed by her viciousness, maintaining that her client only owes him $800. So he cuts her a deal: if she assists him during a game of poker, spotting for nervous ticks and catching the bluffs of his main opponent, he will pretend as though her patient's debts were never owed to begin with. Margaret, turned on by the new excitement of the situation, agrees but ends up getting more than she bargained for. After the game ends and her bluff spotting fails, she, reluctantly, is forced to cover for Mike and write a check for $6,000 to his violent rival.
Not so fast, though: before she hands the dough over, she notices water dripping from the gun of the adversary. A fake. The entire plan, you see, was a ploy. A con man of the highest intelligence, Mike, in reality, was planning to grift her out of thousands, everyone in the room a part of his slick team. Rather than hold contempt for the man, though, Margaret finds herself erotically infatuated with his level of cerebral strength: the thrill of the con is exactly what her predictable life needs. She begs for more, to become a part of Mike's tricky world of double-crossing. He agrees - but it doesn't take long for the normally icily confident psychologist to find herself way in over her head.
"House of Games" is the kind of movie you have to continually remind yourself to pay close attention to, as one quick diversion can completely spoil an eventual twist in the mind games. The repeated cases of whiplash in the plotting are far too ingenious to miss out on. Most grift central films are glittery cases of shimmering fuckery, wrapping their convolutions in packaging so keenly stylish that sly thievery suddenly holds a sort of vogue nonsense too good to be true.
But "House of Games", like the best of neo-noir, centers itself in a dark world of Lichtenstein paintings without pop art cheer; we are always aware that danger is lurking in every corner and that everything on display could be part of a complex con. Not once do we feel at ease during its cool 101 minutes - we feel as though Mantegna is pulling a fast one on us once again, that the at-once brilliant and naïve Crouse is going to get duped after a stretch of psychiatric safety.
The smarmy smoke-and-mirrors attitude of David Mamet, a then-exclusive screenwriter making his directorial debut, is so terrifically confident that he becomes the ultimate con man - if he weren't such a gifted writer/director, he easily could have found his calling tricking wealthy old widows out of their fortunes. The clipped diction of his writing would seem stilted if placed in the hands of an unknowing filmmaker - so dependent on italics and extended metaphors is his screenplay that his actors don't so much act his lines out as they do become them. Mamet is more concerned with the mind games that come along with the plot twist of a con, and so the dialogue, a wily combination of street punk toughness and intellectual zing, makes every situation metamorphosize into something more subversive and more literarily minded, modern art infused into the devious mind of film. Mamet views linguistics as if they were a weapon, not a way to emotionally express one's self.
"House of Games" is a psychological series of cat-and-mouse, seduction chasing our common sense away as we find ourselves in the wrong over and over again. Deception isn't normally a fun pastime in the film industry, but Mamet is a master of deceit; we want him to play us like a piano. The excitement never ends - "House of Games" is a masterpiece of the plot twist.
½ August 20, 2015
In my opinion "House of games" is a con film, too pretentious, and probably the premise that the viewer should be deceived too, is left aside. After the first intent from Mike to deceive Margaret, and when she insists to Mike to take a part in the next one, I understood immediately how the plot would be developed.
August 6, 2015
Why did the guy fill the squirt gun with water? Who can't tell the muzzle of a gun from the muzzle of a squirt gun? Who hands their room key to the desk clerk when he goes out instead of just keeping it on him? What desk clerk immediately forgets someone just putting a key on the desk? Someone cannot have a shard of glass in their hand and not feel it. People can feel an ant crawling on their hand. People don't talk about a murder they just committed in front of a taxi driver. Genius con men return to the bar the mark knows about to divvy up the loot. Yeah-no. mamet takes liberties with reality that are story killers.
½ August 3, 2015
The ideas are interesting, but the film tries to handle all seriously a script which has, when you get down to it, all the logic of a comedy. An added trouble is that the acting is downright horrible.
½ May 27, 2015
Clever and unpredictable, David Mamet's House of Games features excellent dialogue as well as direction showcasing Mamet's filmmaking talent.
Super Reviewer
March 6, 2015
The direction is remarkably assured for it being Mamet's first effort, he uses empty space really well and there is a distinct style that recalls noir but it never becomes overbearing. As for the screenplay and the way he directs actors . . . well its very much a question of taste. I think that when he writes and directs his own material it works great, but it isn't something I'd want everyone to indulge in.
February 16, 2015
Caso tenham dúvidas, é este o filme no qual a Europa está.
½ May 28, 2014
David Mamet's intriguing thriller about a Psychiatrist's obsessions on Con artists, is probably the closest to perfection he has come to achieve. The film, which is a close companion to Hitchcock's Strangers on a train, is whimsical, insightful, full of twists and turns and brilliantly acted !!
May 18, 2014
David Mamet's got quite a cool style for films like this one.
½ April 4, 2014
A psychological film noir and a battle of wits between two intelligent con people. David Mamet is also a con man, engaging his audience using the same trickery of plot that the characters use in the film. The main thing I have against this film is really the lack of emphasis on character. I understand that part of the point of this movie is not to know much about the characters but it made me try to guess the plot and I was right most times. This is the difficulty I have with most melodramas.
½ March 8, 2014
"You can't bluff someone who's not paying attention."
House of Games foi o primeiro trabalho de David Mamet como realizador, em virtude do que são evidentes alguns apegos à caracterização teatral das personagens e dos cenários, todos eles marcados por um semblante art-house que afasta esta película do estilo de thriller mais tradicional.
A história gira em torno da psicóloga Margaret Ford, que numa das suas consultas recebe um paciente que se confessa um viciado no jogo e que, por isso, está metido em alguns problemas. Decidida a tomar medidas menos convencionais para ajudar o seu paciente, Ford desloca-se até ao antro dos problemas de jogo: um café que tem por nome o mesmo que o título do filme, embora a sua fachada esconda na verdade uma sala de jogos onde se praticam esquemas menos legais. Quando Ford é, ela própria, enganada através de um esquema de carácter didáctico, de imediato esta fica intrigada pela personalidade de alguns burlões, e decide acompanhá-los em alguns dos seus golpes por forma a reunir material precioso para um livro que está a escrever.
Desde 1987 que já se fizeram dezenas de filmes com traços semelhantes aos de House of Games e, por essa razão, a sua narrativa é demasiado previsível. Além disso, não ajuda nada que a protagonista seja interpretada por Lindsay Crouse, aqui a oferecer um dos piores desempenhos femininos de que me consigo lembrar. A sua expressão facial é constante e a sua entrega de linhas de diálogo chega a ser atroz e difícil de entender.
Mas que seja essa a única nódoa deste filme, porque do outro lado da balança têm-se argumentos de peso, quer seja pela qualidade da realização, ou pela performance dos actores que encarnam os "artistas" da casa de jogos.
Longe da profundidade e maturidade cinematográficas atingida noutros trabalhos, como por exemplo Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), David Mamet consegue ainda assim um retrato sombrio sobre a vida artificial e ambígua daqueles que usam jogos como forma de ser e estar.
DrStrangeblog
Super Reviewer
½ February 6, 2014
Psychiatrist/author Lindsey Crouse, an icy observer who smokes more than a tire fire, gets more than she expects after getting involved with con man Joe Mantegna and his cronies. Hailed by Roger Ebert as the best film of 1987 (and 3rd on Siskel's list), there were certainly far fewer films of this devious ilk back then, but the modern seasoned film enthusiast will probably deduce the destination several stops ahead of time. Still a good watch though, one of David Mamet's best scripts and as director he uses light & shadow to good effect.
½ January 12, 2014
David Mamet's debut film, a psychiatrist has a patient who is deep in debt and says they will kill him, so she tries to go settle the debt. Instead, she gets brought into a card game to try and find a 'tell' of one of the opposing players. Instead, they run a scheme to try and get her to pay out what is owed in a scam. She is thrilled, and wants to learn more about how they run similar scams. Joe Mantegna takes her around and shows her various tricks of the trade. I must say, I could see the 'twist' coming almost right away. Not sure if I've just seen so many similar movies or I know Mamet or I'm just so well versed in these things. It was entertaining, though, and interesting to see the guys work. The last 10 minutes just don't quite live up to the rest of the film for me. The way she got her revenge was a little weird and just seemed a little off.
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