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Croupier (reissue)


Stars: Clive Owen, Alex Kingston, Gina McKee, Kate Hardie, Nick Reding, Nicholas Ball, Rhona Mitra

Director: Mike Hodges

Scarcely shown at the time of its original release in 1999 (after two years on the shelf), this compulsively watchable neo-noir is now widely available, thanks to its new distributor Netflix, on most major digital platforms.

They say there are no new storylines under the sun, but director Hodges, with his penultimate film to date (and first for eight years), certainly found one here. No one before had made a film that centred on the quite bleak life of a croupier - the man who rakes in your losings at a casino.

Owen (who also provides the deadpan narration) is interesting as a blond, although soon reverting to his natural dark hair, and gives a tight and steady performance as a would-be writer who takes a job as a croupier - for which he trained in his native South Africa - to pay the rent.

Naturally, the highs of the job soon grip him, and he becomes involved with three women, one of whom (Kingston) soon drags him over to the dark side. At first abiding by the house rules, he eventually succumbs to a scam - and takes a 10,000-pound bribe - although, as in most film plots that aim to keep you guessing, he finds things not quite as he thought.

Solid, absorbing stuff, this, entirely devoid of any frills, well thought-out and not without a keen insight into the croupier's garishly lit, microscopic world. Welcome back.

Available on most major digital platforms

David Quinlan

UK 1997. UK Distributor: Netflix (originally BFI). Colour (unspecified).
93 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 26 Mar 2021