Jack Manfred is an aspiring writer going nowhere fast. To make ends meet, and against his better judgement, he takes a job as a croupier. He finds himself drawn into the casino world and the job gradually takes over his life; his relationship with girlfriend Marion begins to deteriorate. One gambler in particular catches his attention: Jani, whom he starts to see outside of working hours – a serious violation of casino rules. Jani is down on her luck; under pressure from her creditors she approaches Jack, asking him to be the inside man for a planned heist at the casino. Jack carefully considers the odds; it all looks so simple, but even a professional like Jack can’t predict the cards he will be dealt.
User Reviews: I first saw this film at the Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle as part of a double feature with Get Carter – both films being directed by Mike Hodges. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Hodges was behind ‘Get Carter,’ in my opinion the greatest most realistic gangster-flick of all time. He was also behind ‘Flash Gordon’.
Fortunately, Croupier fell in the category of being more like the former than the latter – a gritty, urban tale about very ordinary, mundane people just doing their job. Hodges turns on the magic, however, making the life of Jack Manfred, struggling writer and part-time Croupier as complex and as multidimensional as any character I’ve ever seen, as he is sucked into London’s gaming underworld.
This is a great film – I can’t tell you too much or I’ll spoil it, because this one twists and turns and doubles back on itself like a rattlesnake in a sack. Clive Owen is fantastic as the emotionless, stony faced Croupier, and the supporting cast is always believable.
This is a low budget film, with minor stars and functional sets, but the quality of the writing, acting and directing shines through and I only loved this film more when I saw it again on cable pay-per-view. I now own it on video and it’s one of those few films which holds my highest accolade – it’s worth watching again, and again. If you enjoyed ‘Get Carter’ (1971), get this.