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Classic Movie Short Review: Croupier (1998)

by Emily Stewart

May 07, 2015
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Classic Movie Short Review: Croupier (1998) The road to becoming the next J.R.R. Tolkien or Neil Gaiman is a difficult one, and Jack Manfred (Clive Owen), the hero of Croupier, knows that very well.

Jack is a fledgling writer whose career is at a standstill. Forced to take a job outside his area of expertise, he accepted a post as a casino croupier. Jack thought that being a croupier would only mean long, tedious hours of work ahead of him. However, little did he know that his job would allow him to gather the materials he needed to write a best-selling book. Thanks to his job as a croupier, he was able to stand at the very center of a casino populated by people with interesting stories to tell.

Throughout the entire film, Jack can be heard narrating inside his head, using lines that can only be read in novels. The lines he says show how capable he is as a writer, clearly stating each action he sees in third person. Watching croupier is like attending one of those book reading sessions where the author reads to a big group of fans, only with moving pictures.

The film’s strongest aspect would have to be Jack’s character and not the plot itself. The plot is nothing extraordinary, but Jack’s character is as interesting as watching Sherlock Holmes work. Jack is a very aloof, yet likable, person who uses his amazing observation skills in order to predict the back story of a person or read the next move of the people he serves at the roulette table. He can usually be heard assessing situations and calculating the risks involved in them, and stays as a silent spectator amid the action in order to have an impartial say to his work-in-progress, just like what any professional writer would do.

Croupier is a window to the casinos of olden days so those who haven’t seen a casino movie in black and white might be surprised with its setup. Bright lights and flashy center stage performances are not present in the film, and people are wearing suits and dresses instead of shorts and loose shirts. Those who are only familiar with how casinos look online will be even more surprised, as the loud and lively slot machines are also absent in the film. InterCasino, quite possibly the world's oldest online casino site, looks even more modern than Croupier’s old, classy, and mob-ran casino setup.

Overall, Croupier is a remarkable film that proves casino movies don’t need to be gaudy and action-packed in order to be good. It’s one of those motion pictures that you and your friends will probably keep talking about for weeks once you’ve given it a go.

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