This is the kind of movie that should be seen twice to fully appreciate it. It’s also the kind of film that’s hard to review without revealing …
The lady you see above is in it, which is giving nothing away. But I’m getting ahead of myself …
The movie starts with the title character, Jack Manfred (played in super-suave manner by Clive Owen), manning the roulette wheel and talking in voiceover.
From there, we flash back to his days as an aspiring author (with blond hair).
Jack has daddy issues and a bad case of ennui when it comes to dealing with the publishing industry. Plus he seems to suffer from writers block.
At his father’s urging, he takes a job at a London casino. It’s here that he meets Matt, a young and reckless fellow croupier, who ostensibly becomes the basis for the protagonist in his novel. A protagonist named Jake. Pretty subtle, huh?
It’s also at the casino that Jack meets the luscious Jani de Villiers (played by the awesome Alex Kingston). They strike up a friendship, despite the house rules against croupiers consorting with punters. Turns out they’re both originally from South Africa. What are the odds?
Jack’s voiceover narration throughout the story not only adds a neo-noir touch to the film, but underscores his detached view of himself vis-à-vis other people. As he narrates, we hear the book about Jake being written in Jack’s voice. Nice touch.
Naturally, something is bound to go amiss in this scenario, but to say more would spoil everything. I will say that the movie has much more subtlety in its visual subtext, as well as the dialogue, then I have suggested up to now. The plot also comes full circle back to the beginning and winds up with a twist that’s thought-provoking and ironic.
This film should be seen at least twice to fully appreciate all its merits. In fact, if you read the screenplay (click here to download), you may notice things you didn’t when viewing it.
This one’s a gem. Highly recommended!