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1999 | 1998

1 item from 1998


Film review: 'The Gambler'

21 October 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

An English-language winner featured in the second Hungarian Film Festival of Los Angeles, "The Gambler" (screening tonight at Laemmle's Music Hall) stars Michael Gambon as Fyodor Dostoevsky as he faces a write-or-perish dilemma in St. Petersburg in 1866.

In Karoly Makk's conservatively directed but involving 1997 drama based on a true story in the Russian novelist's remarkable life, the bearishly sexual, unpredictably epileptic and all-around self-destructive future writer of "Crime and Punishment" is saved from ruin and a dead-end career by his inspired stenographer, Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina (Jodhi May).

With one month to write a novel or sign away his earnings to a venomous publisher (Tom Jansen), convinced-he's-a-failure Dostoevsky rallies under the initially cautious and professional but soon genuinely caring attentions of Anna.

While distractions abound and Fyodor has an awful mean streak, his well-observed tale of a young gambler (Dominic West) in the midst of an orgy of roulette playing and backstabbing hooks Anna and the viewer, with the film alternating between the fictional and real worlds.

Two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer appears on screen for the first time in 55 years as the controlling grandmother of West's character in the story within a story. In several exciting sequences, she gets the wild look of a gambler on a streak of incredible good fortune and, despite overuse of slow-motion and editing to build tension, Makk splendidly captures the delirium and brutal shocks of winning and losing.

Notwithstanding their differences in age, his furious temper and the pressures of creating a whole novel in mere weeks -- with her taking dictation, then translating her shorthand and copying out the manuscript by hand -- Anna and Fyodor fall in love. In a fine performance, May ("The Last of the Mohicans") has a pale strength and beauty that tames the tattered literary lion, while Gambon is terrific in one of his best roles.

THE GAMBLER

UGC DA International and Channel Four Films

in association with Hungry Eye Pictures and KRO Drama

A Marc Vlessing production

Director: Karoly Makk

Producers: Charles Cohen, Marc Vlessing

Screenwriters: Katharine Ogden, Charles Cohen, Nick Dear

Director of photography: Jules van den Steenhoven

Production designer: Ben van Os

Editor: Kevin Whelan

Costume designer: Dien van Straalen

Music: Brian Lock

Casting: Celestia Fox

Color/stereo

Cast:

Fyodor Dostoevsky: Michael Gambon

Anna: Jodhi May

Alex: Dominic West

Stellovsky: Tom Jansen

Grandmother: Luise Rainer

Polyna: Polly Walker

General: John Wood

De Jriex: Johan Leysen

Blanche: Angeline Ball

Running time -- 99 minutes

No MPAA rating

»

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1999 | 1998

1 item from 1998


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