‘Sharper’ Major Characters, Explained: What Do The Characters Of Benjamin Caron’s Thriller Has To Offer?

“Sharper” tries the “Pulp Fiction” and “Knives Out” trick of telling the same story from different perspectives and interweaving the plot. All the actors do a good job, but Julianne Moore steals the show as the imposter femme fatale. While the execution is good, the ending becomes predictable. However, the film holds our attention from start to finish as we wait to see what transpires and how, and who is the shrewder character. In this way, the film does manage to justify its title, “Sharper.”

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There aren’t many characters “Sharper,” and it uses this to its advantage. Fewer characters allow the story to revolve around them freely without seeming too complicated, despite being of an interweaving nature. Tom, Sandra, Max, and Madeline are all different kinds of people with different views toward life. However, considering how the film moves forward, we are going to explore the characters in pairs, i.e., Tom and Sandra, and Max and Madeline. This will allow us to understand them better.

Spoilers Ahead

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Tom And Sandra

Tom is Richard Hobbes’s son from his first marriage. Richard dates Madeline, who is working with Max to get their hands on Richard’s money. After Madeline ditches Max to marry Richard, Max hires Sandra, a drug addict with a history of shoplifting, possession, and assault, to swindle Tom out of $350,000. Meanwhile, after Richard dies, Madeline becomes the owner of his $9.2 billion worth of wealth. Tom gets the bookstore and his parent’s trust fund. But when Tom manages to track Sandra with the help of the police, who believe that Sandra couldn’t have pulled off the plan alone, Madeline gets cautious because it is possible that it was Max who used Sandra to rob Tom.

Tom is someone who has never been materialistic. His father’s money didn’t matter to him, and all he ever wanted was to be surrounded by books. When he turned 21 and Richard offered to give him anything he wanted, he asked for a signed copy of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. After his mother’s death, he was distanced from his father, who also found him to be a disappointment in the sense that he never showed interest in his father’s business. Literature brought him closer to his heart than to his mind, and this is what led him to like Sandra, a girl who also loved books, or so he thought. He even gave her the signed copy of Jane Eyre that he treasured. This is why he was so sad when he realized that she had robbed him after spending such wonderful moments together and giving him the “impression” that she loved him just as he loved her. It was this love that ultimately made Sandra give in and confess to him the truth about Max and Madeline.

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When Max hired Sandra, she was a nobody. She had no parents, a criminal past, and a history of drug abuse; she had nothing worth living for. She learned the art of making impressions from Max, who found that she was a natural. She was sent to Tom to rob him but instead fell for him. It is bizarre how her acquired taste for books, which she learned from Max merely to make an impression on Tom, got her emotionally involved with him. She realized that she could not let Tom be on the receiving end of such a con and made up her mind to confess and make the culprits pay. She realizes that what Max told her is indeed true, i.e., you cannot cheat an honest man. She brings Tom to Tipsy (one of Max’s men who was also conned by Max and Madeline), and they all chalk out a plan to con the two robbers.

Perhaps Sandra’s loneliness disappeared after meeting Tom. She had been alone and without love for so long that it took some time for Tom’s love to dawn on her. She had a lot on her plate, including assault, possession of firearms, and drugs, and all these things had apparently snatched away her ability to feel things. But it was Tom who filled the void that Sandra had inside her. On the other hand, Tom, too, found a window in Sandra through which he could vent out his feelings and thoughts; also, not to mention his taste in books. All this slowly turned into love. And we see how it was love that cleared everything. So is Sandra sharper? She should be because, going from doing drugs to dating a billionaire, she did it all herself. Her only advantage- she didn’t cheat the honest man.

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There is another possibility. We must remember that Sandra had already been conned by Max, who escaped with the $350,000 before she went to Tom. She read the news of Richard’s death and then decided to approach Tom and tell him the truth. So did she do all this only to take revenge on Max? After all, she did kiss him after passing her first test run. So, it is a possibility.


Madeline And Max

Madeline and Max have seemingly been working together for quite some time, and when she tells Max that she is going to remain with Richard, she also says that she is tired of playing the mom. But considering how money-minded she is, these words might just be empty because staying with Richard will bring her money that she couldn’t otherwise even dream of. On the other hand, Max, after being ditched by Madeline, hired Sandra to rob Tom. This was clearly to get his revenge on Madeline, or at least in this way; he could find some kind of closure that he was looking for to get over Madeline. He clearly loved her, and that is why he didn’t go after her or decide to hurt her in any way. He rather went after Richard, the person who Madeline married, via his son Tom. Having said this, do we notice a little bit of trust in Madeline when she tries to contact Max after Sandra, who is being monitored at Richard’s apartment (now Madeline’s and Tom’s) due to her excessive drug abuse, threatens to reveal Madeline’s real identity to Tom unless she brings Max to her? It seems that somewhere deep down, Madeline believed that Max would return her voicemails. And he finally did. So, maybe working together made them more than just business partners.

At the end of the film, Max and Madeline do not get even a penny of Richard’s wealth. If Sandra hadn’t fallen for Tom, Madeline would have conned Tom successfully, becoming the “sharper” one. Then again, Max was completely out of Madeline’s mind after she inherited all of Richard’s wealth, and she wouldn’t have reached out to him if it weren’t for Sandra, who planned it with Tom. Max was somewhere else on his own and had nothing to lose. Upon his return to Madeline, she thought that she had finally gotten out of trouble and would be rich forever, Max or no Max. Ultimately, she loses everything. As for Max, he had nothing anyway and perhaps returned only to help Madeline. The only possibility for them is to resume their earlier game of impressions, where Max would be the son and Madeline would be the mom again.

“Sharper” doesn’t provide much backdrop for each character, which is a good thing as we are able to understand what’s going on without breaking our heads. However, the execution is what might make one feel that a bit more character exploration, or perhaps the introduction of a character or two more, could have made things more interesting. But we aren’t complaining.

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See more: ‘Sharper’ Ending, Explained: How Does Tom Get His Revenge? What Happens To Madeline And Max?


Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata’s greatest regret is the fact that he won’t be able to watch every movie and show ever made. And when he isn’t watching a movie or a show, he is busy thinking about them and how they are made; all while taking care of his hobbies. These include the usual suspects i.e. songs, long walks, books and PC games.

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