Croupier by Mike Hodges
Jack (Clive Owen) is a writer going through a serious bout of writer’s block. In order to make ends meet, he takes a job as a croupier at a local casino. Already an experienced card dealer, he quickly rises to the top, becoming one of the best. Jack is calm, cool, and suave. He’s in complete control of his table, or so he thinks. Events soon take an interesting turn when he becomes involved with one of the casino’s patrons, a beautiful woman named Jani. Soon, Jack’s decisions come up to the stiff code by which he lives his life, and finds his sense of personal superiority challenged.
Croupier was one of the big hits, an underground film that everyone seemed to be raving about. And I have to agree with them. It’s an enthralling thriller, but one that uses quiet tension, superb acting, and a sharp script to keep you interested, rather than a thrill a minute. Owen, as Jack, puts in a marvelous performance as a man who always calculates the odds so that he can remain in control, who moves through life with a sense of cool superiority instead of a conscience.
As events start to build up against Jack, it’s interesting to see how his resolve starts to shake and shatter. But he always retains the stony exterior, always has to be in control. Even when the worst tragedies occur, he’s able to ignore them through the strength of his personality. It’s not that he’s ambivalent or uncaring, but he’s so intent on figuring out how to control the odds that he becomes a puzzle to figure out in and of himself.