Dir: Mike Hodges
Star: Clive Owen, Alex Kingston, Gina McKee, Nicholas Ball
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1998
Format: DVD R2

Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) wants to be a writer. So while he writes his novel to get money to pay the bills he takes a job his dad had put him forward for as a croupier in a casino. It is a life he has grown up with in South Africa, and one at which he knows the risks. He soon begins to realise that this life is his book, and Jack the writer begins to merge with the character Jack the Croupier.

This is a clever film. It is an examination of addiction. Not just form the point of view of the punters who gamble away their cash, but from the view of the croupier as he becomes addicted to the power of controlling their fates. Jack knows the addiction that this power has all to well, he has already been a croupier and he thinks he can handle it. We get to watch the transformation of Jack as his normal life descends back into grip of his addiction. It is an unusual perspective on gamboling, and it makes for interesting viewing.

If you were thinking that this sounds to arty and boring you would be dead wrong. Admittedly there are no car chases or gun fights (hey there is only one small heist at the end, so that must be a record for a modern British film ), but the fascinating characters keep things riveting. The blurring of the novel and the main characters real life is also a nicely original concept with is explored well. This is a great story, very well told.

The charisma of the central character is key to the film and Clive Owen gives a strong yet laid back performance. He is strangely alienating yet compulsive to watch. Overall a performance that indicates that he is a talent to watch. He is backed up by a good supporting cast with Alex Kingston on good form as ever, and Katie Hardy ( Bill Oddie's daughter ) also impressive. My only quibble is the totally dislikeable performance from Gina McKee . It lacks the required attractiveness and romance. In fact she appears out of her depth.

This is a great intellectual film helmed by veteran director Mike Hodges (the man who bought us the original Get Carter and Flash Gordon ). His direction is spot on giving the appropriate emphasis to the story and characters rather then messing with inventive and hip camera effects. No clever CGI cut scenes here, this is old fashioned entertainment.

This isn't an all action blockbuster, and those out there who want that better look else where. It is a good quality well written drama. The central performances are good if not a little alienating (although I think some of this is intentional as it is mentioned on screen ), with Clive Owen showing he is a talent that is far bigger than his earlier television work. Overall this is a fascinating and interesting film that has layers that can be explored with repeated viewings. Bored of mindless gangster flicks well this may be the answer.


Hang On Tightly... Let Go Lightly

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic A good quality picture as to be expected from a modern release.
Audio Dolby Stereo Strasngley stereo but a it has little to do this isn't important.
Features Commentary by Mike Hodges
Verdict Not a terrible disc although extremely light on extras.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home