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'The Gambler' *** 062505
The Work = ***
His description masks the fact that he is seemingly, hopelessly, addicted to gambling. His problem is so big that even after racking up a huge debt in an underground casino he still stops on his way to work to make a bet against some neighborhood kids. Freed is educated and certainly not unintelligent but he is unable to recognize, or maybe just acknowledge, his own addiction. He is so compulsive that he even makes different kinds of wagers at the same time. (He bets with a bookie while going to a casino.)
'The Gambler' is an interesting film, slow in pace, it builds the amount of pressure placed on Freed as he digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole. The film was written by James Toback who was a college professor with a gambling addiction. Toback was also known as quite the ladies man and I have to wonder if he was not as compulsive about women and gambling in life as the character of Freed is about gambling in the film. Toback has written and directed some interesting films, he has a real talent but I don’t always like his films.
I like scenes in his film 'When Will I be Loved' but did not care for the movie as a whole. Here with 'The Gambler', the film has steady direction from Karel Reisz who keeps the movie moving along but doesn’t get too showy with his direction. The only other film I have seen that is directed by Reisz is 'Who’ll Stop the Rain' with Nick Nolte. I enjoyed the performances in that film but didn’t care for the conclusion of it. Here again I like the performances and I like the film more than I liked 'Who’ll Stop the Rain' but I am not sure that I understand the conclusion of 'The Gambler'.
The film seemed like it was headed to an ending and then it kept going. I don’t really understand the last act and what I was supposed to get from the very final conclusion. Perhaps it is meant to show that Freed finally sees his own wounds, finally knows his own weaknesses, or maybe it is something else altogether. In any event the lackluster ending didn’t ruin the film for me. It is still a good drama and a somewhat underrated picture.
DVD = ***
All Together = ***
'The Gambler' Links:
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