the fresh films reviews

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The Card Counter (2021)

Directed by:
Paul Schrader


The Card Counter

112 minutes

Produced by:
Braxton Pope
Lauren Mann
David Wulf

Written by:
Paul Schrader

Cast includes:

William Tell Oscar Isaac
La Linda Tiffany Haddish
Cirk Tye Sheridan
Major John Gordo Willem Dafoe -



When even a movie about gamblers and card counters turns into a fairly standard revenge flick, you know that Hollywood and Paul Schrader is in desperate need of a blood transfusion. Which is a real shame, because Schrader's latest picture, The Card Counter, starts out as an atmospheric and simmering drama with a hypnotic electronic score by Robert Levon Been and Giancarlo Vulcano, and starring an intense and immaculately stylish Oscar Isaac. He plays William Tell, a casino player who counts cards at the blackjack table and wins consistently, but keeps the stakes low in order to go unnoticed. He just plays for the love of the game and to have something to fill his life with. He obviously has some demons to deal with, but they are kept in the background that is until he meets the young drifter Cirk (Tye Sheridan), whose life story makes William take him under his wing. Paul Schrader has always been interested in people living on the edge of society or in sub-cultures, and The Card Counter seems to be an obvious venture down another such road. When Isaac's voiceover explains the details of blackjack and poker early on in the movie, we're led to believe that we're in for a deep dive into the specifics and mechanisms of these card games. But alas, the movie soon turns to much more well-trodden movie territories, and the ostensible sub-plot involving the talented Tye Sheridan (The Tree of Life, Mud, Ready Player One) becomes the main plot line. It's a choice of path which greatly reduces The Card Counter's potential and places it firmly in the garden-variety bucket, in which it will wither and slowly be forgotten. Tiffany Haddish is badly out of her depth in a contrived role as Isaac's backer.

Copyright 20.08.2023 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang