Gambling (2004) Poster


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Thoughtful and well-directed character study about "loss" in Vegas.
roger-2128 September 2004
A thoughtful independent film about a man (JP Allen, the writer and director) who's lost his girlfriend late one night in Vegas.

As the security officer for the casino interrogates him, he flashes back on his relationship with her - and with other women he's known. The film is very thoughtfully composed and slowly reveals this man's psyche, both in how he deals with women, communicates with them (not too well), and his increasingly obvious gambling habit. The girl isn't the only thing he may lose tonight.

The action takes place over the course of a couple of hours late one night in a Vegas hotel. A psychological piece that is very well written (almost "too" written, in that is is very writerly - not a terrible thing), and not really driven by plot. Rather, it's a study of character and of place (physical and mental). There's some mileage gotten out of possible foul play the girl might have encountered, but the movie's heart ultimately isn't really in this particular tack. Likewise a gigantic bet that may or may not be placed.

The film isn't ultimately very "revealing" in suddenly explaining what makes these people tick. It doesn't "cheat" that way. Instead it merely observes them, sorta stuck in this point in their life. There's a well-done fascination in this well-observed piece.

The pace is perfect for what it does. Nicely acted (if a little stagey) and it looks good (it was shot on film, a nice change of pace from most low-budget indies these days). At 89 minutes a very confident and small character study, a couple in Vegas, acting the way they do, not for any reasons except that that's the way they are. And in a way, that's a more tragic fate than what befalls them - foul play, lost bets, whatever.
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