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A rent collector in Victorian Tyneside tries to better himself. He finds navigating class prejudices and family obstacles difficult. Sometimes criminals oppose him. It seems he'll never succeed, but twists of fate and help from unexpected quarters make it seem as if he'll win through in the end. Written by
It's hard to go wrong with Robson Green in anything. He's tall and gorgeous, with that great accent, and his acting is wonderful. He's able to be both gritty and romantic.
In The Gambling Man, based on the novel by Catherine Cookson, he plays Rory, a young man in 19th Century Jarrow England who happens to be a crack poker player. Currently he is collecting rent and having a difficult time of it because he's too kind. He'd love to get into big gambling, but he needs a large stake to do it. He steals five pounds from his employer, and his good friend ends up being accused of it and goes to prison.
The is the watershed moment in Rory's life and sets up what happens during the rest of the film. In the gambling circle, he meets Frank Nickie (Bernard Hill) who has certain rules about winners at the table -- rules Rory doesn't want to follow. For that, he endures a savage beating and nearly doesn't survive.
We see Rory throughout his life, constantly having to deal with Nickie and his enforcers, the Pity brothers (who have none). When his wife finds out that his friend went to prison for him, she leaves him and later Rory is told that she did not survive a boat sinking. The woman he is working for as an account manager, the daughter of his late employer, is obviously interested in him (though he's completely blind to it) and finally proposes. A marriage simply for companionship on her end turns into something else.
Really interesting story about a complicated man and the surprising, disturbing, and shocking turns his life takes. The atmosphere is sheer perfection, putting one right in the middle of 19th century England. And the acting - Robson Green gives his usual strong performance; Bernard Hill is terrifying as Nickie, and Sylvestra le Touzel is wonderful as Charlotte, as is Anne Kent as Lizzie and Ian Cullen as Paddy.
High production values, a great cast, and intriguing story make this an excellent watch.
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