All bets are off in London's gambling world when struggling writer Jack Manfred (Gosford Park's Clive Owen) accepts his father's offer of a job as a croupier, out the cards of fate and fortune each night to casino patrons.... more » As his relationship with his girlfriend, Marion (Notting Hill's Gina McKee), suffers from the strain of his new job, Jack finds his eye roving to a seductive gambler, Jani (ER's Alex Kingston), who lures him into a dangerous robbery scheme with Jack positioned as the inside man. A critical and commercial smash, this delicious British thriller from director Mike Hodges (Get Carter) and writer Paul Mayersberg (The Last Samurai) is a solid winner from start to finish!« less
Intrigue, mystery, action, and great character study
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 10/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This hard boiled British film noir about a croupier in a London casino is destined to become a classic. With his slicked-back black hair and striking good looks, Clive Owen brings a cool, cynical, self-confident elegance to his role as Jack Manfred, a croupier (dealer) in a London casino. He's writing a novel and has been recommended to the job by his father, a South African gambler, who has raised Jack to know all the tricks of the trade. Jack has nothing but contempt for the gamblers who come to the casino to lose each night and expresses his hatred for cheaters. He, himself, takes pride in the fact that he never gambles, but as the plot moves forward, the audience watches him rationalize his own actions in regard to his relationships which pull him deeper and deeper into his own kind of gamble.Three women play key roles in his life. There is his live-in girlfriend (Gina McKee) who works as a store detective. There is a fellow dealer (Kate Hardie an ex-prostitute and druggie. And, most importantly, there is Alex Kingston (the actress who plays Dr. Corday on ER) in the role as the femme fatale. There is intrigue, mystery, action, a great plot and -- most of all -- a wonderful character study as Jack starts to see himself as a character in his own novel and shares his own internal monologue through the discrete and effective use of voiceovers. Yes. As in other films of this type there are a few details of the plot that are never fully explained. And some of the British dialogue was a little too fast for my American ears. But the casino scenes sparkled, romantic scenes eluded sexual chemistry, and somehow I found myself identifying with Jack and all the workings of his mind. And, like other films in this genre, nothing is quite what it seems. Highly recommended."
Don't buy this DVD
Wild Rice | Austin, Texas USA | 02/15/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I am a Clive Owen fan and first saw Croupier in the theatre when it was released and I have been eager to own a copy on DVD ever since. I just bought the DVD listed above and to my complete disgust, this version of Croupier has been both edited for content and formatted to fit the television screen. The content editing is so severe that it leaves the story without a plausable ending. I was so disappointed because Croupier is indeed a five star story and I had waited some time to get this film on DVD only to feel utterly .... DO NOT BUY THIS DVD...you will be sorely disappointed."
Clive Owen's debut finally re-released in the US!
lea210 | San Luis Obispo, CA | 01/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been looking for a commerically available Region 1 version of Croupier for quite some time now. I was so excited to see that its being re-released that I had to check other sources to make sure its not a glitch. But, yes indeed, Croupier is scheduled to be re-released March 9, 2004!As for the film itself, this film introduced Americans to Clive Owen. It opened the doors for Clive's recent film roles in the BMW Films "The Hire," "Gosford Park," "Bourne Identity," "Beyond Borders" and upcoming starring role in "King Authur" (not to mention the James Bond rumors. I've also heard good things about the Brit TV miniseries "Second Sight.") Don't expect a Hollywood thriller here. This modern update of the film noir genre is shot to create disconnect and confusion, and the characters are gritty and flawed. The film centers around Jack Manfred, a struggling-writer-turned-card-dealer. Jack moves through his life like a ghost, detached and disinterested in the events of his own life. Alex Kingston's character Jani de Villiers enters his life and adds color to Jack's dark world. Jani is the femme fatale to Jack's postmodern hard-boiled hero, but I love that Jack and Jani's relationship does not develop in the way you would expect. Overall, an enjoyable film for indie film lovers and a must for Clive Owen fans."
Clive Owen at this best!
ANT | Crofton, MD USA | 01/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was one of Clive Owen's first starring roles (to be more precise, his second official top bill). It also stands up as one of his best yet. Although somewhat obscure and fairly unknown, this is one movie that Owen fans should get ahold of an add to their collection!
Clive Owen plays Jack Manfred, an aspiring writer who is hounded by his father to find a decent job. With the writing gig not quite working out for him (writer's block surely doesn't help), he finally takes one of those leads and becomes a croupier (dealer) at a local casino. What he uncovers and encounters fascinates him, though certainly it could have appalled anyone. This might be the start of a new book, finally stimulating his creative talents once again, while at the same time earning a good reputation at the blackjack tables as one heck of a croupier. Toss in a mysterious woman (Alex Kingston of "ER" fame [she played Dr. Corday]), and his concerned girlfriend, and you have a strange mix of intrigue and drama, with much depth and flavor.
It does have an R-rating, mainly for language, nudity, drug use and violence. There is nothing quite gory about the film, the language is not a constant string of 4-letter words, the nudity is brief and the drug use fairly minor. Still, be wary if you are offended by any of these items or if you were debating showing the film to anyone impressionable. Overall, though, this is a fantastic movie that delivers drama, some minor action, and a great deal of intrigue. It isn't preachy enough to be over anyone's head and it never gets too side-tracked by trying to fit into any one genre. Fans of Clive Owen, Alex Kingston, drama, intrigue, gambling, or suspense movies should definitely add this one to their collection."
Stunning lead performance in otherwise average film
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 09/08/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is basically a decent movie held together by an absolutely stunning lead performance. In fact, Clive Owen is so spectacular as Jack Manfred, a writer who once again takes a job as a croupier in an English casino, a job he has despised in the past, that he actually makes what would otherwise be a decent film a semi-great one. The film in the end fails to achieve true greatness, primarily because of narrative difficulties and a gimmicky plot twist near the end that leaves an unpleasant taste in one's mouth with its triviality. But that is the director and writer's fault, and not Owen's. His character, gradually getting sucked into the world he abandoned, suffers a spiritual crisis as he becomes increasingly detached and evolves into a dispassionate and detached observer. There is a plot, but to be honest the story completely failed to hold my attention and I'm not sure it deserved my time. Clive Owen, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether.
Although this is one of the most riveting performances by an actor in recent years, Owen was sadly not eligible for an Academy Award nomination because the film was shown on Dutch TV before nominations were made. Because it was a relatively low budget film that received scant notice in the United States, showing almost exclusively in art houses, it is entirely possible that Owen might not have been acknowledged with a nomination even if he had been eligible, but it would have been interesting to find out. What is marvelous about his performance is the way he manages to appear completely dispassionate while at the same time containing powerful emotional reserves. He seems an intensely passionate individual who has completely internalized his passions. Incredibly, Owen's best moments are when he is working at a croupier, speaking only as the demands of his trade require, while we listen to his narrating what he is observing, apparently a narration that forms the text of the book he is writing. I heard Owen interviewed on NPR and there he stated that he insisted on doing the narration first, and then they would shoot the scenes with the narration playing, allowing him to express facially what the words articulate. Owen has great eyes, and he recalls the old expression that the eyes are the windows of the soul.
If anyone other than Clive Owen had the lead in this film, it would almost certainly have been, at best, average. As it is, his performance drives the entire film to something very nearly great. One of the problems that I have always had with auteur theory is that in many films it will lead one to privilege the director as the creative force, while in many cases the director clearly plays a subservient role. Sometimes that crucial figure is the producer, sometimes the writer. In at least one case, THE LIMEY (and without meaning to take anything away from director Stephen Soderbergh), editor Sarah Flack has as much claim as anyone to claim the title "auteur." In this film, that distinction belongs to Owen.
For some reason of which I am unaware, this film was long unavailable in the United States in any form. I missed it when it first hit the theaters in 1999, so I was delighted when I discovered that it was finally available in DVD. That lack of availability has led, I believe, to Clive Owen being less well known than he deserves. He did go on to make a celebrated series of BMW commercials directed by major film directors such as Ang Lee, John Frankenheimer, Tony Scott, John Woo, and several cutting edge action directors, and memorably appeared in Robert Altman's GOSFORD PARK and another Mike Hodges film BETTER OFF DEAD. This summer saw him in the unfortunate KING ARTHUR in the title role. The next year or so will feature Owen in a variety of releases, which will hopefully bring him more of the notice he deserves."