House of Games (1987) - Crime, Thriller

Hohum Score



A psychiatrist comes to the aid of a compulsive gambler and is led by a smooth-talking grifter into the shadowy but compelling world of stings, scams, and con men.

IMDB: 7.2
Director: David Mamet
Stars: Lindsay Crouse, Joe Mantegna
Length: 102 Minutes
PG Rating: R
Reviews: 20 out of 119 found boring (16.8%)

One-line Reviews (104)

But then again I like films that have good character development more than a formulaic plot any day.

This gritty, dark movie is slow moving and seductive.

HoG doesn't fall entirely into this trap like say, The Usual Suspects, but remains uninspiring.

Riveting, disturbing...

That thoroughly enjoyable movie unfortunately diffuses its focus, hopping among several themes and exploiting the fine performance of Goldie Hawn to chase after some easy laughs.

Yet it is also common and predictable enough to make it a disappointment.

A gripping, well-paced and consistently entertaining thriller.

Most of the performances are stiff, uninteresting, and seem over-rehearsed, thus spoiling Mamet's trademark dialogue which is (or rather would have been) typically exceptional.

Overall a fascinating view into human nature: what we see/present to others vs.

Despite the above, I insist the film is worth watching.

The ultimate result is that the only entertainment to be had is in guessing the outcome, and the sooner you do that the sooner you will get bored with the robotic, two-dimensional performances.

It's slow and the acting is as wooden as in a Dario-Argento-flick (save for Joe Montegna, who is quite good as the low-life Mike) .

With us viewers being the fly on the wall to the workings of the con-artist, it makes for compelling viewing anyway, that it's also a crafty thriller with tricks up its sleeve marks it out still further as a film of substance.

Though the story, once it gets rolling, is pretty predictable, and the twists - save maybe the last one - can be seen from miles away, the script is good enough and the dialog witty enough, David Mamet's skill at its finest.

The movie could have used some music in the background or something to make the painfully slow scenes move along.

Mamet ended the film without giving us closure, and while the rest of the film was exciting to watch, this ending just left me soured.

Intriguing elements in a film about con-artists that is apt to split audiences right down the middle...

Perhaps Mammet hoped to compensate for this with snappy dialogue and complex psychological relationships.

Predictable and Disappointing .

Several here have written that the movie's ending was completely unexpected.

slow moving and slow witted .

Good but stagy, improbably but entertaining .

Sit on the edge of your chair as tricksters are being tricked and victims turn into perpetrators.

Am I missing something here , for people to say this was an intriguing plot makes me feel slightly uneasy!

of course the frame is predicable but the movie is intense since the beginning...

There is so much unwatchable garbage on the screen these days that when something comes along that doesn't insult your intelligence, like this movie, I feel myself heaving a sigh of relief.

The script is super predictable, minus the last confrontation, which by that time was acted so poorly I just didn't care.

She enters it willingly and is faced with the unexpected.

The story is the only saving grace, but how it was applied like I said above was predictable and stale.

Mike agrees and what follows takes Margaret on an incredible journey of self discovery as her powerful attractions to Mike and his life of deception lead her and the story in a number of unexpected directions before the movie reaches its shocking climax.

Given that the presentation had no appeal to me, I was at least expecting an engaging story.

As Mike leads Margaret through his compelling, surreal realm of existence, and introduces her to the intricacies of the con game, we are swept right along with her.

Afterwords she started talking to me in that bland style the leading actress did and I started getting annoyed....

Just like a clever con artist, this movie draws you into its web and lulls your vigilance.

But I loved Ulrich Mühe's performance as he still remained believable and intense.

Definitely worth watching.

) The acting here is very flat (I sometimes wondered if the bland acting by Crouse was supposed to be some sort of attack on psychoanalysis).

Predictable plot and implausible actions .

Once the plot begins to take shape it reveals some fascinating details about the ways in which professional swindlers take advantage of human nature, as a noted psychiatrist (Lindsay Crouse) learns after being seduced by the games people play (on themselves and each other).

Dr. Ford, bored with her position as a psychiatrist at a local medical institution, decides she'll devote more of her time to writing.

It's fascinating to watch these people use the full potential of manipulating others through such elaborate role-playing.

The dialog, at times, sounds like it came from an old Film Noir flick--it's very snappy and fast-paced.

From that first memorable encounter, when he demonstrates what a `tell' is and how it works, to the lessons of the `short con,' to the stunning climax of this film, Mamet keeps the con going with an urgency that is relentless.

It has a riveting script, with good acting (at least from the leads).

And the final of the film is definitely something for all to see and watch out for, it's stunning.

That doesn't mean the movie is bad -- it isn't, it's often extremely entertaining.

It is very intriguing and Joe Montegna and Lindsey Crouse do a great job of acting.

Though the revelation is not especially original, Mamet’s incisive script – combining intelligent plotting and intriguing characterizations – wins the day, so that the film holds the attention throughout and emerges to be a sophisticated and highly satisfying entertainment.

She possesses advanced knowledge of a type, but have her educational activities drawn out the best in her or simply made her another cookie cutter personality?

David Mamet wrote and directed this gem that's full of snappy dialogue, great one-liners, and enough twists to keep you guessing til the end.

Dr Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse) is a successful psychiatrist and best selling author who harbours serious doubts about her ability to help her patients and also feels that her life is empty and unfulfilled.

Also, Lindsay Crouse is a dull actress, miscast for David Mamet dialogue.

The subtle nuances that could have given the film depth were all but ignored, sub-plots went nowhere, and characters that should have been more developed came across two-dimensional.

For fans of the psychologically gripping, it doesn't get any better then this.

(Incidentally, the strangely robotic performance from the usually compelling Lindsay Crouse, the former Mrs. Mamet, should be compared to the even-stiffer Rebecca Pigeon, the PRESENT Mrs. Mamet, in 1997's not-dissimilar "Spanish Prisoner".

The card game ensues and soon the psychiatrist and the gambler are seen to be in a familiar line of work (gaining the trust of others) and a fascinating relationship begins.

Contrived, predictable and slow .

The unexpected reveals itself to be something she somehow should have expected.

Mike is also an intriguing character; soft-spoken and suave, glib almost to the point of being feminine, he also comes across as a personality conforming to a type of role, that of the shifty con man.

The plot is mind boggling and it is a work of art.

She speaks in a monotone and her face NEVER changes expression.

The worst movie I have ever seen .

SPOILERS This is a gripping movie about grifters.

Don't waste your time.

Gripping story .

The famous "The Sting" looks shallow by the comparison (more entertaining ?

An extremely enjoyable film experience that is worth repeated viewings.

The film gets dark slowly, situations slowly get unpredictable and then you start wondering whom to trust and whom not to.

Mantegna is absolutely riveting in this film; he lends every nuance possible to a complex character who must be able to lead you willingly into the shadows, and does.

It is also a great script, and at the time, we were all blown away by it - smart, sexy, intriguing and the rest.

One of the most intelligent and fascinating stories I have seen.

I watched the tape I have of this film again, after a pretty long time, and enjoyed it just as much.

What I liked in The House of Games is the soft directing style, it's a bit too much on the artsy stagey side but it is really enjoyable to have a director know how to set up an atmosphere.

" Goffman also wrote a fascinating article called "Cooling Out the Mark," a study of how con men quiet the mark down in order to leave him sufficiently satisfied with himself that he doesn't go to the cops or otherwise seek revenge.

It makes the movie an emotionless bore.

The story is too contrived and ultimately unsatisfying.

Screenwriter David Mamet also made his directing debut with this frosty but absorbing puzzler which offers wonderful acting roles for both Joe Mantegna and Lindsay Crouse (Mamet's wife at the time).

I highly recommend it.

In addition, while there were some twists and surprises, usually I found most of these to be awfully predictable.

Having written several pieces, both fictional, and non-fiction, about how the confidence men ply their trade, it was really fascinating to see the stories somewhat exposed on film.

The first 2/3 of "House of Games" is really enjoyable, as Lindsay Crouse's psychiatrist character is engulfed into the world of professional con artists.

In short, it's an exceptional thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat by providing interesting characters with many levels, and never truly revealing what's happening, while throwing in many twists and surprises to upset completely what you've just seen.

Hypnotic, Intense & Utterly Compelling .

Much like in "The Spanish Prisoner" the bad guys base their cons on far fetched assumptions and unlikely coincidences, and they all come together in a totally predictable twist.

This is initially quite intriguing and soon draws the audience into a twisting plot which rapidly becomes totally engrossing.

A well-done and thoroughly entertaining film.

it kept reminding me that it was a movie, instead of engaging me in the plot and characters.

While the movie moves kind of "slow", it's climax and ending are stunning!

Overall, it was a movie that COULD have been a great thriller with a star cast and a huge budget, instead it was a waste of time.

Either the twist is too abrupt and it really feels like an 'in your face' conclusion, or it is too soft and you are bored because you saw it coming.

A superbly entertaining and engrossing movie, and one of those enjoyed equally in subsequent viewings.

You may have noticed how some techniques do not transfer from the stage to film set easily, if at all, but that's partly what makes this film so fascinating.

The first con may fool you, but everything that follows is predictable with a capital P.

Instead it was predictable from start to finish.

Margaret Ford is an intriguing character; educated to the point of embodying a robotic decorum, her faintly masculine persona as an educator is absorbing to watch.

The tempo of this movie is not good tempered, in my opinion to slow.

Mamet has a habit of making all his characters seem distant and shallow which is fine if that's the point, but who wants to sit through two hours of all monotone, one-dimensional characters?

If you go into this film expecting the classic 1980s cliché of woman meets man, man is a criminal, woman changes man thus leading to a sloppy wet ending, you will be utterly disappointed.

However, by the time he got around to "Heist", I think he had gone to the well once too often; the surprises there seemed a little too trite.

This film does move kind of slowly, but the twists and turns are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

It is slightly predictable at times but the shocking climax is always exciting to watch.

Possibly the worst movie EVER stay far away .

It is fascinating.

So while this is very predictable to a certain point, it is played with such a finesse you just have to love it.