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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 40.54%
Just Average: 2.7%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 25 user ratings

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by desdemona

"A look at life through the eyes of someone on the outside looking in."
5 stars

Every once in a while an independent film comes along that makes you glad you vowed to stay far away from Star Theaters and the weekly dribble they dish out. Croupier is one of those films.

If American Beauty is about life and the beauty in even the ugliest (or simplest) of things--which I would argue to the bitter end, despite an overwhelming amount of dissent--then Croupier is about all the ugliness in life and how, if you can play your hand correctly, you can become master of this game of pain.

Croupier is the story of an aspiring writer, Jack Manfred (Clive Owen), who reluctantly becomes a dealer (or, a croupier) in London's Golden Lion Casino because, well, an unpublished author doesn't get paid very much. Throughout the entire film, we see everything through Jack's detached gaze--the shock and depression of the "punters" that continually lose; the pain of Jack's girlfriend Marion (Gina McKee), whose love for him is one-sided and exists only as long as he sits at home and writes; along with the darkly mysterious Jani (Alex Kingston) and the cold croupier Bella (Kate Hardie), both of whom succeed in entangling Jack in their chaotic lives, which apparently doesn't seem to impress him one way or the other. Although at some points funny, others tragic, Croupier(like Jack) is able to maintain a completely neutral standpoint regarding all the occurrences. After only a short time, Jack is pulled into the addiction of gambling--although he is strictly against gambling. Jack's addiction is that of a croupier with an eagle's unflinching gaze--a man that loves to watch others lose.

But, at his base, Jack is also a writer, and a very keen observer, and so he uses the knowledge of life that he learns through watching the punters to write his bestselling I, Croupier. He takes his experience, all the corruption and all the tragedy, and creates the masterpiece his tormented artist soul was searching for. Although Jack is a person without any apparent morality, his detachment from everything good or bad enables him to observe and critique life and all its little oddities in a way that only those who only care about how much they can get away with can, the kind of person that knows all the odds but also knows how to manipulate them and become master. But he isn't a bad guy. At the very worst, he's a realist. And honestly, what can be worse than that? Well, ask Lester Burnham.

This is also an extremely witty movie, with a few completely unexpected surprises. It could almost fall under the category of thriller, but I think it would be best served to be described as film noir. Throughout the movie, Jack narrates (an this is interesting: he switches from third-person to first-person narration a few times) in a cold, deadpan way, delivering punchlines to jokes gone unspoken and inner thoughts with the kind of indifference a man like Jack would think with. Jack also likes to play with people, telling deliberate lies frequently, to both familiar people and complete strangers, for no other reason than just to get a reaction (or, rather, to SEE the reaction).

This movie is about seeing things through a kind of filter; it is about one person's perceptions in accordance with the filter he's viewing them from. In this case, the filter is life as a croupier, and the person is Jake. Not Jack, but Jake. Jake, Jack's alter-ego, the cold and calculating croupier that observes without stepping in, or steps in but only to be able to observe a little better. Jake, the man that got entangled with one woman that almost ruined his already-fragile relationship with his girlfriend and another woman that almost got him fired and possibly prosecuted and even killed. Jake, the man without a conscience but with a very human soul. Jake, the croupier, living inside Jack, the writer.

Director Mike Hodges, who has yet to score a major theatrical, and screenwriter Paul Mayersberg have scored big with this look at life and the odds of winning in it, and Clive Owen delivers a razor-sharp performance, drawing the audience in from the opening scene and keeping their attention with his ever calm and cool demeanor and his captivatingly watchful gaze.

This is probably the best movie of the year so far. This is not the every day crap you see at the mainstream theaters, but something actually worth your $7.00-$8.00 and an hour and a half of your time. This movie is a witty surprise; the kind of sharp, intelligent film that creeps up from behind you and blasts you with its creativity.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4399&reviewer=86
originally posted: 06/25/00 03:18:39
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User Comments

7/11/05 Tom Benton Expertly-directed, with an intelligent, interesting script; Owen is terrific. 5 stars
11/01/04 Shams Huque Clive Owen for Bond! 5 stars
6/11/03 Dead Ringers FX Rule! This guy is the next James Bond!!!!! 4 stars
4/19/03 Dillon Clive baby, stay w/stuff like this, pls. don't go 'Hollywood' on us! Great stuff here! 5 stars
10/09/02 Kia This movie rocks. Cliive and my homey Alex Kingston are awesome. 5 stars
8/06/02 I Can't Swim Clive owns the screen; great movie, great characters, great voice-over too! 5 stars
3/07/02 Tim v. L. your betts please??? gives me a new look at my job. 5 stars
10/13/01 Bevan R. Clark I've never been so transfixed by a roulette wheel in all my life 4 stars
7/30/01 Elvisfan Clive is perfectly cast in this moody and satisfying flick..good job 5 stars
7/29/01 The Bomb 69 interesting look at the life of casinoes and gambling, I was confused on a few parts tho 5 stars
5/07/01 Belinda Why isnt there more stuff like this around? 4 stars
4/26/01 Aiken Drum I can't quite give it 5 stars, its mighty close but. An enjoyable watch. 4 stars
4/23/01 Pierce Lanson Stunning surprising and sensational. Best movie of '01 5 stars
4/10/01 J.Arcane So that's 3 decent films Hodges has directed in the space of about 30 years. 4 stars
3/26/01 Monday Morning Fresh approach, good story, thoughtfully done. Much better than the usual shite. 4 stars
3/13/01 Bionic Booger First film in awhile where women get treated like shit and don't get a comback.I like. 5 stars
1/06/01 kyle most satisfying film of 2000 5 stars
9/16/00 JB This film is number good damn one this year and many ways :-) 5 stars
8/16/00 Chris Blyth Very exciting, introspective, not at all cliche 5 stars
8/08/00 Martha McGowan Liked it a lot, but am confused about one incident 4 stars
7/22/00 contractor810 best and most underrated film of the year 5 stars
7/19/00 skye chapman liked it...alot. unexpected and original 4.5 4 stars
7/09/00 Andrea excellent, stylish, moody film 4 stars
7/09/00 D.C. Carnahan Interesting, but not all that. 3 stars
7/02/00 Roger Kint a masterpiece. Worth seeing again just for the soundtrack, and I don't mean music. Hit me 5 stars
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  21-Apr-2000 (R)
  DVD: 09-Mar-2004


  05-Apr-2001 (M)

Directed by
  Mike Hodges

Written by
  Paul Mayersberg

  Clive Owen
  Kate Hardie
  Alex Kingston
  Gina McKee
  Nicholas Ball
  Kate Fenwick

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