MOVIE REVIEW: “The Gambler”

Directed By: Rupert Wyatt
Mark Wahlberg as James Bennett
John Goodman as Frank
Jessica Lange as Roberta
Brie Larson as Amy Phillips
Alvin Ing as Mister Lee
Emory Cohen as Dexter
Anthony Kelley as Lamar Allen
Michael Kenneth Williams as Neville Baraka
What’s wrong with you? You got brain damage?
James Bennett, associate literature professor at a New York University, tries to connect with his students to get them to understand the existential meaning behind great works of literature. During his lectures, Jim singles out three students to whom he believes has great talent. In his opinion, Amy Phillips could be a genius writer, Dexter is a potential tennis pro, and Lamar Allen is a college basketball hero. At night, he suffers from an incredibly destructive gambling habit. At first, he owes underground gambling ring leader, Mister Lee, $240,000 so he borrows $50,000 from a gangster named Neville Baraka. With the addiction coursing through his veins, he pays Mister Lee $40,000 and gambles with the $10,000. Unfortunately, Jim has a pattern of not knowing when to stop when he is ahead. While in debt to two dangerous men and seven days to pay up, an extremely dangerous loan shark, Frank, sparks an interest in Jim’s dilemma. Will Jim dig himself deeper into his hole or will he get out by going ‘all in’?
A real love, a real thing to do everyday and
 I’d just rather die if I don’t get it.
The Gambler is a remake of the 1974 movie of the same title starring James Caan. The screenplay was written by William Monahan who won an Oscar for his work on The Departed also starring Mark Wahlberg. With several departures from the original story by James Toback, this screenplay seems to have been written for Wahlberg. In similar fashion to his preparation for The Fighter, Wahlberg lost 61 pounds and studied the mannerisms of college professors to embody the role of his character. As difficult as it was to feel empathy for the protagonist, I had to absorb the underlying message to gain better understanding of his motives. Along with Wahlberg’s ‘all in’ style, Goodman, Williams, and Ing were excellent as the films antagonists (especially in the setting that they were trying to help the protagonist). Wyatt’s gamble in this type of story-telling with his choice of visuals and soundtrack, may or may not be for everyone, but I recommend that you roll the dice and decide for yourself.                                                ~Movie Buffette

About Laura McDonald