Croupier

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Year: 1998

Writer: Paul Mayersberg

Director: Mike Hodges

Budget: ?

Gross: $6,198,916

clive owen is one of my favorite actors and Croupier was the film that brought him to prominence and put him on the road to stardom (and would have made him james bond if he had wanted it).  the film is a small british crime drama from director mike hodges, who 27 years previous had made the critically acclaimed Get Carter.

Croupier is the story of jack manfred, an aspiring writer who takes a job at a local casino in order to make money.  he decides that there is a great novel there and uses the casino and its employees and patrons as characters in his novel, which he narrates for us throughout the film. 

unlike many crime dramas that rely on the twists to keep the audience interested.  in Croupier the interesting characters and the unforeseen ways in which they interact and evolve and the directions the story takes are just as important as the big 'twist' moments. now, i might also be saying that because the big 'twist' at the end is the one thing that didn't completely work for me in this movie.

i had seen Croupier many years ago, but i had been very tired and hadn't really appreciated it.  it was one that i had always wanted to see again, which i did just a few days ago.  the interesting thing is that one of the main reasons i had wanted to watch it again was because the ending had made no sense to me at the time.  i had chalked it up to being half asleep and such, but having watched it again (this time wide awake) i have to say that the ending still left me quite puzzled.

the difference is that today i understand what my problem with it is.  the conclusion i came to after having slept on it and thought about for a few days is that it ended to quickly.  the film has a wonderful pace and takes us through the story with a great tone and sense of style, but then when we get to the end it all just happens in about 10 minutes (or at least it feels like that), and it left me a little empty.

not that i want a neat ending with everything explained perfectly (i mean my favorite film of last year was Brick), but here it just all seemed to happen too fast. things are moving along great and then we get to the introduction of a possible casino robbery and then bam! we see a couple big 'twist revelations' and it's all over.

What i found interesting was checking out some forums and discussions about the film after i finished it and seeing the variety of theories that people had for what actually happened.  there were some that fell in with what i was thinking, and others that had never even crossed my mind (good and bad). 

what hodges and writer mayersberg have done is create a film that isn't just a build-up to the 'twist'.  Croupier is a quality film and although, for me the ending caused it to fall short of being a great one, it was good enough that my disappointment with the last 10% of the film was not enough to completely ruin the other 90% - although it is one that had 100% potential.

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