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    "Croup" therapy

    A writer treats his mental block by taking an eye-opening job at the gambling tables in the sharp British drama "Croupier."


    Heavy on style and seductiveness, the British film "Croupier" is one of those unassuming Channel Four franchises that creeps out of nowhere and provides a thought-provoking alternative to the blather of Hollywood's summer lead-in.

    Directed by: Mike Hodges.
    Written by: Paul Mayersburg.
    Cast: Clive Owen, Jack Manfred, Kate Hardie, Alex Kingston, Gina McKee, Nicholas Ball.
    Cinematography: Michael Garfath.

    Related links: All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
    In Mike Hodges' film, a blocked writer (expertly played by Clive Owen) takes a temporary job as a croupier in a London casino to make ends meet and soon becomes drawn into the complexities of gambling, gamesmanship, and goodness knows what else. It's a simple enough storyline but it's given remarkable depth by writer Paul Mayersberg and significant worth by its stellar cast, mostly unknowns on this side of the Atlantic (although the croupier's girlfriend, played by Gina McKee, will be recognized from "Notting Hill").

    Owen, handsome as all get-out with his jet-black hair and matching tux, commands the film with a smoky, smoldering performance that's matched only by his own smoky voiceover, oftentimes nicely at odds with — or second-guessing — the narrative, and a smooth jazz scoreline by Simon Fisher Turner.

    "Croupier" is more a character study than a card-sharp drama, yet Hodges scores some winning touchdowns in the casino proper. Here the hush of a dealt card and the chink of one chip against another provide delicate soundscapes that contrast with the glam of the ensuing roughness. Good stuff this, as Jack (Owen), who was raised in South Africa and did some dealing there, soon regains his wonderlust for watching people lose as he tries to walk the straight and narrow.

    But it's a wicked twisted world out there where temptations are ripe and commonplace, more frequent, certainly, than the turn of a friendly card.

    MAY 21, 2000

    Reader comments on Croupier:

  • [no subject]   from Filip Belichenov, Mar 15, 2001
  • Where's 'Croupier' been for 3+ years?   from Colin Townsend, May 30, 2001
  • Croupier sounds great   from G_Not (Athens Greece), Dec 30, 2005
  • Addicted   from Dorothea, Jun 20, 2006
  • query re plot of Croupier   from christine encel, Jun 19, 2007

  • Post a comment on "Croupier"