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Drama - US

The Card Counter (2021)

Duration1h 51m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: R, Denmark: 11 
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorPaul Schrader
Writers/ScriptPaul Schrader
StarringOscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, William Dafoe, Alexander Babara
RatingsIMDb: 6.2/10 by 17,179 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 86% by 188 reviewers. Review2view: 3/10.

Elevator Pitch: William Tell (not his real name) is a man who travels about the USA playing card games for small stakes, using the skill he learnt in prison while he was serving eight years for his actions as an interrogator during the Iraq war. He meets Cirk, a young man seeking revenge for the death of his father, also a former interrogator and La Linda a woman who runs a stable of poker players their games staked by investors. The objective of the revenge is Gordo, a civilian advisor who was Tell’s and Cirk’s father’s boss, but Tell hopes to deflect Cirk from his objective by giving him a new start in life.

Content: Tell and La Linda do get to it, but without nudity . Everybody drinks a bit in the bars of the casinos. Almost the whole film spent looking over Tell’s shoulder as he plays cards, with occasional flashbacks to the time when he was in prison and also his interrogation activities at Abu Ghraib. He books into motels and once in his room completely covers the furniture with white sheets secured with twine. We notice that once in Gordo’s house he has also covered the furniture with white sheets. 

A View: When my wife read out the name of the film a location for the sale of cards in a store came to mind, but it is something quite different. It is not really surprising that the critics liked this, it is well made and lays bare some American guilt from the Iraq war. But honestly, is it entertainment? Possibly not, as the views of the general public seem to indicate. Hence, because I really like to be entertained rather than traumatised when I go to the cinema, I have given it low points and would not recommend that anyone pay money to see it.

There are only a few films featuring the Iraq War reviewed on this site. They include American Sniper, The Manchurian Candidate and one of my favourites Green Zone.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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