The art of the con has fascinated filmmakers over the years, as it can make for a strong and compelling story. Everything from the three-card trick to more elaborate flights of fancy, often involving a crew, all in the attempt to get one over on their ‘mark’.

Someone pulling his own con of sorts is British director Benjamin Caron, who has made a career in directing episodes for TV shows such as The Crown, Sherlock and more recently Andor, and tries one of the biggest cons of all here, by trying to pass himself off as a film director for this con flick.

boom reviews Sharper
So I'm pretty sure I could get all these books to fit on my Kindle...

New York City, and working in a small, independent bookshop is Tom (Justice smith). A beautiful young woman walks into his store one day, and they get talking, and Tom soon finds himself smitten with Sandra (Briana Middleton).

Elsewhere and Madeline (Julianne Moore) is dating Richard (John Lithgow), who just so happens to be a wealthy billionaire. They seem happy enough, but when her troubled son Max (Sebastian Stan) comes to stay, it proves quite disruptive to the relationship.

Everything is not as it seems here, as there is a con afoot – but who’s conning who?

boom reviews Sharper
I bet that's John Malkovich knocking at my door again.

Caron’s feature length debut certainly shows promise from the outset, as it does what all the best con films do and that’s lead you down one path, then go in a different direction.

It’s also broken up into chapters, named after the characters involved, as it slowly peels back the story from different angles. Altogether these reveal a thread that runs through all of them, and by following finally reveals all.

The problem is, if you’re at all familiar with the conman genre, the likelihood is that you will see it coming. And although you can still enjoy the craft of it all, it’s disappointing not to experience the thrill of when the curtain is pulled back for all to see, when you know what’s already behind it.

That’s not necessarily Caron’s fault as the direction is slick enough, with some excellent performances most notably from Middleton and Smith.

Perhaps it just suffers from conman fatigue, with so many going before it, making it difficult for audiences not to second guess the outcome and spot the con. That said, the script isn’t nearly as sharp as it thinks it is, which many will find leads to a bit of an anti-climax and not be nearly as elaborate as it could have been, and that’s the real con here.

we give this three out of five