The Gambler – 3 out of 5
So, the story of "The Gambler" centers around the summer time on a train that has no real destination. A young man has a conversation with a professional gambler in exchange for an alcoholic beverage and he explains that, when gambling—and in real life, as well, because it’s a perfect metaphor—you need to know when it is beneficial to stay the course and hold your hand—or hold ‘em—and when it makes more sense to call it quits or, as they say it, fold ‘em. The movie then—wait, this isn’t the story of The Gambler. I’m just giving the story behind the Kenny Rogers song of the same name. The Gambler I’m supposed to be talking about is a remake of the 1974 film with James Caan of the same name.
|Do you like this? He's crying because you didn't say hello to your mother for him!|
Okay, let’s get to the real synopsis…
|Calm down, Brie Larson. The synopsis is coming. I can see that you are boiling with|
Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a college professor with a problem. His issue is that he really, REALLY likes to gamble and it ends up putting him into debt with a man who runs an underground gambling ring and a particularly violent man played by Omar from The Wire (Michael K. Williams). His problem gets worse when he starts to diddle one of his students (Brie Larson). When the life of his student is threatened by the particularly violent man, Bennett decides he needs to do what he can to pay off his debts like a Lannister and turns to his mother (Jessica Lange) and a loan shark who seems hell bent on Bennett admitting to his flaws (played by John Goodman). Can Bennett get his shit together and pay off the loans and put his gambling addiction behind him?
|"I bet you can't quit gambling, Bennett."|
|And then she sings "Life on Mars."|
|Goodman, seen here doing his best Marlon Brando impression.|
However, this is a minor complaint because there really wasn’t anyone slouching in the cast. Additionally, I really enjoyed the symbolism the film liked to throw at the viewer. Whether it be a scene where Bennett is literally running towards freedom and away from his addiction or the film’s use of water, the symbolism of the film might be my favorite aspect. For example, the movie loves water imagery to show that Bennett is drowning in his own problems and he is well in over his head and while this symbolism may lack subtlety and seems sorta obvious, it works so well.
|Add glasses and suddenly he's a college professor. The homework he assigns...|
saying hello to your mothers for him.
The only real downside I found overtly obvious with this film was the fact that the drama was hard to latch onto. I’m not really a gambler but this fact wasn’t what kept me from getting completely sucked into the story. The performances are there, the conflict is brewing and the characters are interesting but it just lacked the proper hooks to suck me in. All the ingredients are present but the final mixture just didn’t have that special "Umf" needed to make this film more than just something I will give a single chance to and never watch again.
|"I'll bet on black."|
|Omar would be the last person I'd wanna owe money|
to. Just thinking about it would make me piss myself
if I heard "The Farmer in the Dell."