Opening to coincide with the BFI’s re-release of Get Carter, Croupier is British director Mike Hodges’ first feature for nearly 10 years. Written by Paul Mayersberg (The Man Who Fell to Earth), this atmospheric and enigmatic gambling thriller centres on Jack (Owen), a struggling writer who reluctantly becomes a croupier in a London casino.
After-hours temptations – drink, drugs and casual sex – soon begin to put a strain on his relationship with store-detective girlfriend (McKee), and gradually Jack finds himself drawn into helping Jeni (Kingston), a South African gambler who’s apparently in serious debt to a gang of criminals.
Unfolding in an underground, hall-of-mirrors world populated by con-artists, inveterate liars and hustling card-sharks, Croupier is piece of slick, economical film-making. Minus points include some less than convincing dialogue and underwritten female characters, but Owen contributes a poised central performance and there’s a delicious final Oedipal twist.