Jack Manfred is an aspiring writer going nowhere fast. To make ends meet, and against his better judgement, he takes a job as a croupier. He finds himself drawn into the casino world and the job gradually takes over his life; his relationship with girlfriend Marion begins to deteriorate. One gambler in particular catches his attention: Jani, whom he starts to see outside of working hours - a serious violation of casino rules. Jani is down on her luck; under pressure from her creditors she approaches Jack, asking him to be the inside man for a planned heist at the casino. Jack carefully considers the odds; it all looks so simple, but even a professional like Jack can't predict the cards he will be dealt.Written by
Sat on the shelf for two years before release. See more »
When Jack is taken off the roulette table approx 20 minutes in, the roulette wheel is not spinning. Roulette wheels are only stopped when the table is closed, and as there are players at the table the wheel should be moving. See more »
Now he had become the still center of that spinning wheel of misfortune. The world turned 'round him leaving him miraculously untouched. The croupier had reached his goal. He no longer heard the sound of the ball.
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A dense but rewarding film. It has a terrific performance from Owen, poised (in 1998) to become the international A-lister that he now is. He has to play three roles - two in shot, Jack and the emergent Jake, protagonist of the book Jack's writing - and a third, disembodied Jack in voice-over. The film follows his struggle with fatalism (or chance) and grand design. Whether as a writer, a croupier or an observer he likes to be in control, risk free.
Making sure this isn't quite how it works is a pretty solid list of fine support actors. Alex Kingston turns up with an impressively rendered South African accent and more sex appeal than the distilled accumulation of all her work on ER. Potent stuff. Gina McKee plays a conventional love interest without simply being wallpaper; David Hamilton runs the Casino with an ambiguity that mirrors Jack's.
Mike Hodges engineers tight, claustrophobic shots and choppy editing. Everything about the film is up close and suffocating: shots in cars; Jack's tiny flat; stairwells and copulating couples in toilet cubicles. Owen's Jack is neither repelled by nor engages with this proximity. It only affects him if it foists itself upon him violently or he chooses to deal with it. Whether or not he actually has a choice is the point of this entertaining film. 7/10
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