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Overall Rating
4.26

Awesome: 33.33%
Worth A Look61.9%
Average: 2.38%
Pretty Bad: 2.38%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 12 user ratings


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Owning Mahowny
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Show me the money."
5 stars

Perhaps more fun than the gambler’s movie where it’s all about winning, is the gambler’s movie where it’s all about losing.

But to make that interesting, and compelling at the same time, is clearly the bigger gamble. (Pun intended.) Low-key, off-the-radar Canadian director Richard Kwietniowski (Love and Death on Long Island) takes the true story of Brian Mahowny, a bank manager who fails to find his habit an addiction, and manages to undetectedly (for some time) skim $10.2 million for the habit. The loser, not totally made to be unlikable as a character, but affected by his vice, is seen in a declining spiral, a desperation for little more than the high achieved by playing and not necessarily winning. That, too, makes him nervous, but his excursions to Atlantic City, and then Vegas, clearly exhibit the character’s confliction with his actions. And the want to win is not totally absent — it’s the rationale that serves as the variation: Mahowny wants to win so he has enough to keep losing. Kwietniowski makes the addiction palpable yet still semi-mystified; but just because it’s not about alcohol or drugs does not mean that any of the power of being sucked in and overwhelmed is neglected to be shown. The strength of the direction is effectively made succinct and balanced insofar as Kwietniowski’s choice is to tell the story with restraint, which means widdershins: there is no “Viva Las Vegas,” no Tom Jones, no striking oil at the tables to invigorate the viewer, no showgirls in cabaret, etc. (There is a hooker, but that’s appropriately dealt with as well.) Luxury (at the expense of the casinos, back to the expense of the gamer) and opulence are implied, but the film isn’t about being flashy or distracted by its own storytelling agents. And that mantra is seen through Mahowny’s activities on the floor — hardly phased by his surroundings, rarely even taking his eyes off of the table. The case being, Kwietniowski doesn’t let this become about the obsessions, but remains in control of the man and his life as affected by them, as well as allowing Philip Seymour Hoffman a large amount of space to work within and thus exhibiting one of his best performances to date. With John Hurt, Maury Chaykin, and Minnie Driver.

[Absolutely to be seen.]

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6818&reviewer=172
originally posted: 04/22/04 07:08:44
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2003 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2003 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/10/13 Mitch Mathis The plot is confusing and hard to follow. 2 stars
2/23/10 Jason Greenslit Predictable yet entertaining 3 stars
3/11/07 Ryan_A Goddamn, Hoffman is amazing. 5 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Hoffman is a treasure. A real treasure. Great film. 4 stars
9/20/05 ERIC ROBERT WILKINSON Hoffman's performance is controlled, powerful and brilliant! Amazing 5 stars
8/13/05 ES You'll be glad your not Mahowny= wow 5 stars
7/03/04 john bale Brilliantly acted "The Lost Weekend" of compulsive gambling. 5 stars
1/01/04 Luther Calvin This film will haunt you in its depiction of compulsive gambling. 5 stars
8/18/03 tim hoffman is perfect in this role... dont miss it... 5 stars
7/23/03 Kooler Hoffman is god 5 stars
5/29/03 Richard Dewar The best film I have ever seen about obsession and compulsion - Hoffman is brilliant! 5 stars
1/29/03 Hilly Excellent film 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-May-2003 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Jul-2004 (M)




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