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Croupier (1998)

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Shows the kind of seedy underworld of London, taking place largely in some casino.

Not the glamorous London or tourist brochures or the historic London but some random casino, which is nothing like Monte Carlo.

Briefly the Jack character goes to a big department store to meet his gf Marion or comes out of a Tube station at Picadilly Circus.

Initially Jack takes on the croupier job recommended by his father who's back in South Africa in order to have material for writing a novel.  He sets out to absorb, make some money so he can help pay the bills, plans to observe all the rules imposed on him by his boss.

But almost immediately, he sees that other dealers don't bother with the rules, such as not talking to punters, not socializing with other dealers, not gambling.  One of his co-workers undresses right in front of him in the dressing room -- how is it that it's a co-ed dressing room and it's mostly meant for dealers to change into their uniforms, not strip down?

Jack decides that Matt, who steals from the casino, gambles and fraternizes with one of the regular customers, would be the model for his novel because Matt's credo is that he wants to "fuck over everyone." 

Marion, the gf, is a former cop who's a department store detective.  She doesn't want Jack to work at the seedy casino so he promises to quit soon.  He calls her his conscience.  But apparently not so passionate about her as he just grabs Bella, the other dealer who undressed in front of him, and sleeps with her.

Then he starts seeing Jani, whom he recognizes as a savvy gambler, after she keeps trying to come on to him.  They don't sleep with each other but she parades in front of him naked then later tells him she's in trouble with "creditors" who will hurt her if he doesn't help her stage a robbery at the casino.

Jack calculates the odds of the robbery working and agrees to help with the heist, taking a big stack of cash as advance payment for his role.

Jack has become Jake, an alter ego who doesn't have any of the pretensions to be above any of the underworld ethos he's surrounded by.  Jani tells him that all the casino customers get their money through crime so why should he care if they want to rob the casino.

Marion finds out about the heist and foils it, alerting the police or the casino.  She gets killed in a hit and run.

Jack/Jake goes on to publish his novel called Croupier anonymously.  It's a big bestseller, with his casino boss enjoying it.  Jack doesn't quit and doesn't spend any of his bestseller money.  He accomplished his original goal but he's become the thing he'd despised, which was to also be like his father, a lowlife who leads a similar life around casinos back in South Africa.

 

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I watched this movie years ago, and this is the role that made Clive Owen perk up casting agents and the movie press. He was FIRE in this role — so charismatic, amazing performer and able to glare sexily. Before Daniel Craig was announced as James Bond, Clive's performance in Croupier had many guessing he was the next 007.

Croupier was super entertaining as well. I loved it, and still own the DVD to this day (now very vintage!)

Also, Clive Owen did step up to the A-List eventually (he got lead roles and was nominated for an Oscar in Closer), but it wasn't a long run, alas. I blame his "new" teeth. It changed his face and the way he spoke. (It's not the full reason, but I blame it anyway!)

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