The Gambler

Have you ever found yourself wondering: can Mark Wahlberg play a professor? Wonder no more: of course he can’t. Even if he’s got a blazer and a slightly overgrown haircut? Not even then, I’m afraid. The part where he’s a total degenerate gambler, that I believed. He has said that this was the hardest role of his career, and you’d better believe it. The fact that it’s a terrible stretch for him is evident all over this thing.

As a cereal-loving, self-loathing professor of literature and a crazed gambler who has the-gambler-4.pngliterally gambled his whole life away, Jim is in a tough spot. He has enormous debts and borrows from one low-life money lender to pay another – although he then pays neither, and loses that money at the casino too. His bottoming out is made even more embarrassing because his most promising student (Brie Larson) happens to witness it.

But the truth is, it’s exceedingly hard to care about this guy. Even if you cut him some slack in light of his compulsive disease, we also see that he’s not terribly good at his job, or at being a son, or at being a person. He’s a self-destructive guy who just stopped caring a long time ago and there are no redeeming qualities to be discovered, even if a young blonde somehow finds him alluring.

[Sidebar: young women always think they can save the bad guys they’re attracted to. They can’t. Give her 6 years and she’ll be throwing houseplants at his head while she furiously packs her bags, accusing him of stealing her youth.]

This film is watchable but it’s derivative and never justifies its own existence. The original is still king. This one flubbed the minute Wahlberg came on board and just flopped about like a balloon with a slow leak.

 

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10 thoughts on “The Gambler

  1. Paul. Writer and Filmmaker

    Yes, this film was a weird mix of drama with romance tacked on the end. Should’ve be more nihilistic in my view but tried to redeem a complete arsehole and failed. Wahlberg is an okay movie star in lighter action-based stuff and this was beyond him. Surprised director Rupert Wyatt gave us this after the excellent Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

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  2. Birgit

    I like Wahlberg so I will give this a go but you are so right about the women in films who think they can help the self destructive idiot and it would take them maybe 2 years before they finally leave. They would throw the plant at their head in the first. 6 months:)

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  3. J.

    A curious one this. I’ve had it here for a couple of years, but have never felt much of a pull towards it (other than liking Wahlberg, who knows why I have it in the first place). It’s good to know I’ve not missed anything.

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