The Gambler

Gambler-The-posterJim Bennett (Mark Walhberg) aches for something that will make him feel alive.

When he tells Amy (Brie Larson) that he is not a gambler, we believe him.
Here’s a man who doesn’t care which sin he indulges in, as long as it puts him one step closer to the grave.
He’d drink everyday, but gambling looks classier.

The film opens with Jim slouched on a chair, crying.
Then, flashbacks to his childhood, riding in the car with his father, who’s now old and dying.
A moment later, we’re at the funeral.
Jim bails and drives to a gambling establishment, where a masterful, pulse pounding sequence starts.
He gambles, wins thousands of dollars, keeps gambling, loses all of his money, loses a bet against a mafioso, borrows more money, and loses it again. It ends with him being told he has 7 days to pay up $260,000.

What follows is nothing new or groundbreaking. What is spellbinding, however, is Jim’s stubbornness for the sake of being contrarian. You get the sense that even the people who want him dead feel a certain pity for the man.
By the time he stole money from his mother and drove to a lousy casino to lose it all, I was disgusted by his behavior, and could not look away.
That the climax cannot keep the ferocious intensity of the previous 90 minutes going is almost beside the point.
Maybe Bennett has finally found something worth living for.
The final scene, set to the beautiful tones of M83, gives me hope.



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