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Updated: Jul 17, 2023

"When they're not looking for you, they don't see you."

How true, and a perspective cleverly demonstrated by Apple TV's new mystery drama, SHARPER.

The film is divided into chapters for each of the main characters. I loved the way that my assumptions about the chapters being chronological were often challenged.

It's an enjoyable ride.

In the first chapter, we meet Tom, played by Justice Smith (Dungeons & Dragons) in the first adult role I've seen him play. He does it well.

Tom is the owner of a small bookstore that seems almost out of place in the modern day NYC setting. He meets young law student Sandra, played by newcomer Briana Middleton. Both happily single, we watch Tom and Sandra dance their way delicately to a relationship. When Sandra's troubled brother arrives at her apartment late one night, family troubles seep into the equation.

Sandra's brother needs money. A lot of it.

And this is where I stop describing the plot, because to do so would possibly give too much away about a very intricately crafted puzzle.

One chapter details Sandra and her background, digging deeper into who she is and her life until she walked into that bookstore.

Another chapter dives into Max, slickly played by Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Solder, Ghosted). Max is a very polished con man, appearing to be a well groomed rich businessman one moment and a spoiled rich kid the next.

Julianne Moore stars as Madeline in another chapter. Madeline is the new girlfriend of Billionaire Richard Hobbes (the perfectly cast John Lithgow). Hobbes apartment overlooking Central Park is a character all its own. Loaded with spectacular views and people of every trust level, no one is quite who they seem to be.

I loved Lithgow's seething delivery of the line "All that work for $1000? If you're going to steal, steal a LOT."

I was reminded of Arthur Hailey's novel "Hotel" back in the 60's, in which he introduced numerous well defined characters to you and then brought them all together for one hell of a finale.

Director Benjamin Caron cut his teeth on the TV series "Andor" and "The Crown" and builds tension with twists and turns build around every corner. I figured out the final twist before it happened, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable.

With a great cast, a smart script, beautiful locations and endless conniving, SHARPER rains chaos on the Upper East Side and gets a solid B.

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