Only Clive Owen Super Fans Need Apply
Daniel G. Lebryk | 07/06/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I think Clive Owen is a fabulous actor. Even though I enjoy his films so much, this film is actually kind of a stinker. There's a couple of redeeming moments, none of which have to do with this being a good film.
Story of a story. Jack, Clive Owen, is writing a novel. He's lost his job and needs work. His father sets him up to be a croupier (dealer in a casino) in a casino. We join Jack interviewing, getting the job, being a croupier, and then getting involved in a heist. Early in the film we don't hear voice over narration of the story he is writing. About 30 mintues in, we start to hear voice over narration, Chapter One, Jack does this or that...Chapter Two... After about 45 minutes of this, it gets very annoying and in the way of the mystery.
There's a backdrop of a relationship with his girl friend Marion, played by the stunning Gina McKee. And Jack has a bit of woman trouble with another dealer, Bella (played by made up to be mousy Kate Hardie); and a "professional" gambler Jani de Villiers (played by Alex Kingston).
Here's the good parts. Clive Owen. He's handsome, he moves gracefully, he has a beautiful voice...what more could a person want? Well he does tend to feel like he's reading his lines, but that aside, early Clive Owen is good stuff. The other good part, Alex Kingston. She is one of the more sensual women I've seen on screen in a long time. No she is not drop dead fabulous incredible gorgeous woman in some superstar mold. She is ever so sensual. Her beauty is of the Reubens variety, a very curvey, well proportioned woman. There is a hugely surprising bedroom scene where she just very casually shows up complete full front naked. It's shocking and exciting.
What's wrong with this film. Just about everything else. There is no way to figure out anything that is happening in this film. In a mystery, there must be clues that the viewer in hind sight will say, ah I could have figured that out; or ah that makes sense; or ah I got it before the director told me. No the mystery is totally 100% complete and totally random. There's no way you could figure it out. So in the end, it's no mystery, it's just annoying. At 1 and a half hours, its still 20 minutes too long. They could have dropped the whole voice over narration nonsense.
Oh the technology is funny. Released in 1998, probably filmed much earlier. Jack types on a Video writer. This was a funny little moment between typewriters and computers. It was essentially a typewriter with a 4-6 line gray LCD screen, memory, and the ability to edit your words after the fact. It was incredibly complex to fix mistakes, but it was better than correction fluid. The weird part about this movie (and a goof on the director's part), once you typed something into a Video writer, it was done. The final scene of Jack printing out his novel is from a computer to a laser printer; and that is simply not possible with the Video writer. Ah geekdom, its a horrible cross to bear.
The movie is not rated, but would definately be R rated. There are two scenes with very naked women. Oddly, they both casually take off their clothes, and just sort of end up naked without any attention or fanfare. As I seem to recall, there is no sex scene as a result of this nakedness (there's racier scenes in most PG-13 films). There's a good amount of strong language (definately more than 2 f bombs). Not much violence, a fight scene, but most television fights are more graphic than this one. So, an R rating. Not for younger viewers.
Unless you are a huge Clive Owen fanboy, avoid this movie. Alex is pretty, but not worth slogging through an hour and a half of lines being read. The whole casino talk never really connected with anything in the plot anyway. And the mystery is a total mess. Really didn't care for this one at all."
Bill Your 'Free Form FM Handi Cyber | Mahwah, NJ USA | 01/22/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is Clive Owen before he became well known, in America, at least.
When a writer has to pay the bills, he compromises his boheimian lifestyle and becomes a croupier at a local casino. He soon starts to realize the power he has over his gambling clients, and his job becomes his new persona.
This unfolds slowly and the hook of the film is to watch the artist become the minipulation artist. This was probably his deep impulse all along--the job only brings it to the surface. The games of his job are those of his life.