Review: ‘The Con’

Trying to escape from a botched con game, an angry ex-boyfriend and partner and an even angrier loan shark, a woman named Barbara (Rebecca DeMornay) heads for a rural Mississippi town and a sure mark. Clever, if slow, drama co-written by co-star William H. Macy displays more charm than suspense, and audience is virtually guaranteed to anticipate final twist.

Trying to escape from a botched con game, an angry ex-boyfriend and partner and an even angrier loan shark, a woman named Barbara (Rebecca DeMornay) heads for a rural Mississippi town and a sure mark. Clever, if slow, drama co-written by co-star William H. Macy displays more charm than suspense, and audience is virtually guaranteed to anticipate final twist.

Barbara’s intention is to marry one of the locals, Bobby (Macy), who is due — though he doesn’t know it — to receive a largish inheritance. While biding her time in Pascagoula, Miss., Barbara dyes her hair black, changes her name to Nancy (both after she’s been seen by locals, though that major misstep surprisingly doesn’t backfire on her), and wrangles herself a job teaching elementary school.

That job brings memories of earlier unruly pupil movies (“Dangerous Minds,” for one) to a mix that’s already reminiscent of “Sling Blade” and any number of “sting” properties.

Macy’s character, Bobby, wears long blonde hair and a blank expression reminiscent of Garth in the “Wayne’s World” movies. He’s a mechanic who’s seemingly a couple of quarts low himself, but nevertheless figures that Nancy is up to something, succumbing to her advances, anyway.

Then the bad guys start showing up — first her surly and abusive former partner and lover (Don Harvey); then the fellow (Steve Shearer) to whom the two owe $125,000: seed money for that earlier, aborted con.

Plot might not show much imagination, but actors are appealing, and there are enough good lines and situations to merit a look by those more interested in character development than storytelling.

Filmed in and around Houston (what, Mississippi too expensive?), “The Con” reeks of Southern character and characters, none more appealing than Angela Paton and Frances Sternhagen as Bobby’s two aunts. Brady Coleman, a former law enforcement officer who worked with Macy in “Mississippi Burning,” appears as the local sheriff and father of the aforementioned unruly pupil (Matthew Hill).

The Con

Wed. (4), 9-11 p.m., USA

Production

Filmed in Houston, Texas, by Mi Sammy Prods. in association with Wilshire Court Prods. Producer, Bob Roe; supervising producer, Howard Griffith; associate producer, Jeff Henry; director, Steven Schacter; script, William H. Macy, Schacter.

Crew

Camera, Peter Stein; editor, Cari Coughlin; production designer, Alfred Sole; sound, Tim Himes; music, Peter Manning Robinson; casting, Penny Musarra, Dan Shaner

With

Rebecca DeMornay, William H. Macy, Mike Nussbaum, Angela Paton, Frances Sternhagen, Tony Frank, Don Harvey, Matthew Hill, Lee Stringer, Gina Mastrogiacomo, Steve Shearer, Lionel Mark Smith, Marge Kolisky, Benny Bennett, Brady Coleman, Bonnie Gallup, Christine Tolson, Mary Bernadette McCann, Melanie Haynes, John S. Davies, Nik Hagler, Grayson (Jim) Helms, Blue Deckert, Sunil Thakkar, Kathy Lamkin, Linda Longserre, Cynthia Dorn, James Hansen Prince, Jimmy Ray Pickens, Marti Wells, Alex Allen Morris, Robert Prentiss, Jackson Earl Burns, Big Skinny Brown, Paul Menzel, Abbi Hutcherson, Jim Gough, the Cosmopolitan Cowboys.
camera, Peter Stein; editor, Cari Coughlin; production designer, Alfred Sole; sound, Tim Himes; music, Peter Manning Robinson; casting, Penny Musarra, Dan Shaner.
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