April 12, 2003

Card Dealing God

Croupier (1998, Mike Hodges) is one of those movies with all the things you really need already in the mix ó sexy man (Clive Owen: check), intriguing world to inhabit (croupiers, ie. Professional dealers of black jack, etc.: check) as well as various sexual pairings (with Alex Kingston of ER, Gina McKee from Mike Leigh movies: check and check). Also, it is probably the least annoying use of voice over Iíve heard in a long time. As viewers familiar with Brian Coxís rendition of McKee in Adaptation know, voice over as an explication device in films is supremely frowned upon. However, Croupier has this noir-esque quality that comes across as entirely earnest, perhaps largely through the stellar portrayal of Jack by Owen, and thus the voice over feel entirely warranted for the movieís mood. To give a brief gloss of the plot, if itís not familiar from the stupendous amount of press it received on its release through The Shooting Gallery, a touring indie mini-festival in various cities, Owen plays Jack, a struggling novelist, whoís father calls from South Africa encouraging him to take a job as a croupier at a local casino. As fodder for the book and as a way to support his retired cop girlfriend, Jack returns to his old profession as a dealer divorced from emotion observing the world of the casino through dispassionate eyes. The movieís distanced and ironic point of view reminded me very much of Alain Delonís Ď60s detective movies like Le SamouraÔ, all mood and ennui and detachment. Where all the characters are too damn sexy for their own good, and while this may lead to complications, the protagonist can still walk away from it all, a cool man in control of his own destiny. It may be all mood, but itís a really appealing mood.

Posted by karen at April 12, 2003 3:43 PM