Clive Owen is a writer. Clive Owen wears a black fedora while he writes. Clive Owen is broke. Clive Owen becomes a croupier. Clive Owen narrates his life in the third person. In his own words, he is addicted to watching people lose. Clive Owen, you are beginning to suspect, is kind of a jackass.

Croupier is narrated by the main character Jack (Mr. Owen), and the conceit is that he is writing a semi-autobiographical novel as events transpire. As conceits go, it’s not maddening. But Jack himself is maddening. He’s one of those chaps who is smug about his own iron moral compass (he does not, of course, gamble), but doesn’t really seem to notice when it hurts other people. He’s living with Marion (Gina McKee), but is mostly awful to her. He is of course annoyed by and spiteful to the publisher who will probably pass on his book, because he’s the only person who’s ever not been published. He’s very punch-happy, of course in the dead-eyed, casually violent manner we all remember from his turn in 2001’s Gosford Park. And, as in that wonderful film, he hates his dad. Maybe Croupier is what got him that part.

Oh, and then Alex Kingston arrives with a sob story, a criminal scheme, and a South African accent. Events transpire. They more or less make sense, but Jack is hard to root for, even when people are manipulating him. Everyone else is perhaps still more unpleasant, but that doesn’t really help. It’s extremely trying to watch someone think he’s better than everyone else, even if it’s true.

Stray observations:

  • Clothes for women in the 90s were so terrible and ill-tailored.
  • Clive Owen looks ridiculous with blond hair.
  • I’m not gambling-savvy enough to spot a lot of casino by-play. I’m okay with this.
  • I can’t stand Alex Kingston, because my first exposure to her was in terrible seasons of “Doctor Who.” This is not really her fault, but it’s also not going away.

Director: Mike Hodges
Rating: unrated, but about R
Length: 94 minutes
Score: 3/5

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