Monday, 2 March 2015


Focus is a simple affair, and a fair indication of the current state of the film industry. Its weaknesses raise concerns within said industry that will be new to few; the ease with which it earns our interest and affection raises concerns within ourselves. Nevertheless, there's a place for simple affairs like this, with simplistic, slick styling that both placates and enervates those with genuine concerns about the state of the film industry. Focus feels like a conscious attempt at creating a 'contemporary update' on a classic theme, that of the glamorous criminal enterprise and the sexy, smart thieves who may be playing each other, and us, as much as their unwitting victims. That's always going to be an engaging premise - it deals in deception yet also in clear, detailed plotting, and there's little more innately compelling to an audience than a meticulously conceived plot. Where writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa go wrong, considering the natural strength of their scenario, is in their direction. That they ply scene after scene with invisible style, that is to say style that barely registers as style, is inevitable and acceptable; that they fail to show any sign of invention, or even aptitude at times, in the basic elements of their mise-en-scene is worrying. Somehow, they bungle a number of key sequences with leisurely cutting and tight, drab framing. Lead actors Margot Robbie (sadly saddled with a role that only becomes more deficient as the film progresses) and Will Smith mitigate their directors' shortcomings  with their undeniable charisma, but neither do they provide anything so bold to this film as to raise it from its own main, nagging concern: mediocrity.