Croupier (Mike Hodges – 1998) B+

Clive Owen plays Jack Manfred, we don’t know too much about his background but we learn glimpses of it in the course of the film. He must’ve been a gambler at some point although he does not gamble anymore, he sure knows how to deal cards and maybe his relationship with his father is not the best. He wants to write a novel, he gets assigned by his publisher to write one about soccer. Soon after though he takes a job as a croupier, a dealer, at a London casino. His life there soon starts seeping into his novel, or maybe it is the other way around. Or both. Owen narrates as Jack and as Jake his novel’s protagonist. His girlfriend is a character in his new novel and is his actual girlfriend. He meets various players, some cheats, other are sad gamblers. They make it to his novel. The key character he meets is Jani (Alex Kingston). She is a good gambler but needs help since she owes some bad people some money. It might seem like a cliché story at this point but Croupier does not behave or reach the same conclusions as other similar movies. Jack is more of an observer, an analyst of all that is going on in the casino and his life. It relies on cool subtle style, good performances and trusts in us to follow along.

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