Clive Owen could once have been Bond and this 1998 thriller cements that belief. Owen plays Jack Manfred a bleached blonde, down on his luck writer takes a job as a Croupier in a London Casino to help him write his book.
Manfred is the omniscient narrator of the story, much like a writer reading their work aloud looking for errors. This tool proves the perfect entry point for the viewer who on the whole is not familiar with the world a croupier works. The Story is however what makes this film so enjoyable, it is the characters and atmosphere that Mike Hodges creates with his subtle direction. The stand out is not Owen’s Manfred but Alex Kingston (Doctor Who) whose performance is low key; but she is able to convey fear in the second act of the film. She is able to draw in Manfred and make him part of the plan to rob the Golden Lion Casino.
Manfred’s mantra is ‘I don’t gamble.’ This is true in the traditional sense, he comes from a family of gamblers, he is from a family of gamblers and he doesn’t want partake in this world. He would never use money to gamble instead he uses his emotions and his relationships. He starts with one women and ends with three. He starts without a job and ends with one he doesn’t really want.
The main thing to take away from the ending of this film. Is the possibility that it may all be a fabrication of Manfred. Is the story he is telling us actually taking place or is it the story being read back.
If you can find the film it is well worth a watch. Clive Owen’s performance has a cold detachment that is just outstanding. the atmosphere and tension is all there. It will leave you unanswered questions as any thriller should have.