- Directors: Rian Johnson
- Producers: Wendy Japhet, Ram Bergman, James D Stern
- Writers: Rian Johnson
- Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Drama, Romance
- Actors: Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rinko Kikuchi, Maximillian Schell, Robbie Coltrane
The film opens during the childhood of the orphaned protagonists, Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody). Stephen, the older of the two, instigates various acts of dishonesty and mayhem, while younger brother Bloom is content to play along the shenanigans. The brother’s unrepentant mischief making causes their constant eviction from one foster home to the next.
Eventually, the brothers are transferred to a close-knit small town filled with friendly children their age. Bloom begins to long for the comfort of a normal and honest social life, and develops a crush on one of the girls there. Stephen, realizing he can use his brother’s interest in the children, manipulates his brother into befriending their schoolmates in order to execute their first big con.
Stephen has Bloom convince his new friends that a mysterious old man told him of a cave that contains a magical creature. The man, Bloom claims, will reveal the location of the cave for $30. The children believe the story, collect $30 among the group, and venture out to the cave. Stephen hides inside the cave just out of their sight, waving a lantern to hint at the magic fairy just out of sight. The excited children run toward the light. Bloom, caught up in the moment, runs too, but, catching sight of his brother, remembers the hollow con and becomes disheartened. The other children, however, are gleeful as they gallop through the muddy cave. Later, however, the fuming parents of the hoodwinked children confront the brother’s foster parents. The boys return the $30, but end up profiting through the con’s true target: they take a cut of the profits made by the town’s lone dry cleaner, who benefited by cleaning the muddy clothes of the bamboozled children. The brothers are soon evicted to another foster home.
Later, Bloom wakes up in the car and slowly discovers that Stephen’s blood stain on his shirt has turned from red to brown (earlier in the film, it is noted that the one flaw of fake blood is its inability to change color). The scene changes back to Stephen, who is dragging the chair to the center of the stage. Still bleeding from the gunshot, he slowly sits down and it is shown he has the Queen of Hearts up his sleeve (revealing he knew what card Bloom would be thinking about) and dies. Bloom, realizing what actually happened, breaks down on the side of the road while Penelope is trying to comfort him. She tells him what Stephen once told her, “That there are no such thing as unwritten life. Just a badly written one.” She tells him that they’re going to live like they’re telling the best story in the whole world. As they’re leaving, Bloom reminisces about another thing Stephen had once told him, “The perfect con is one, where everyone involved gets just the thing they wanted.” For Penelope and Bloom, what they wanted was life with each other, while for Stephen it was happiness for his brother. The two drive off into the distance as the film ends.