Greetings fellow film fans!
Uno dos tres! Ichi ni san! One two three!
That’s right, review number three!
So I cast a wandering eye over my ever growing (not as fast as I would like mind you) DVD collection to decide what I should review next…well I say review, but I like to think of it like more like a random collection of thoughts about films that I have enjoyed, oh and that reminds me I really should post a review about something that I didn’t enjoy (note to self, that’s what I will do next…any suggestions fellow film fans?? Oh and it’s far too easy if someone suggests a Catherine Zeta-Jones film!)…and there it was…like the final piece of BBQ chicken sitting on the last slice of a pan pizza…one of my favourites…”Rounders”!
As you have probably noticed by now I don’t provide a detailed scene by scene plot synopsis of the films that I review …if you want to know about every scene in a film…Wiki it! So if that’s what you are after then perhaps this is not the review to read however do come back once you want to get someone else’s opinion (you know you want to…)
Oh and just on a side note, I think that the reason I feel so strongly about refraining from providing a detailed plot outlines is due to the fact that I started to read one about “Arlington Road” (brilliant film with Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, and Joan Cusack) and it gave away intricate plot points which kind of spoiled the mystery….NEVER AGAIN I TELL YOU!
Ok, so on to the review!
“Rounders” is a gem of a film, a diamond in the rough…however its the sort of thing that you would probably walk past as it blends into the background on the shelf between “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and “The Rock”…destined to be forgotten about and end up in the $2.99 clearance bin.
Now in case that has happened to you, or perhaps this is the first time that you have heard of “Rounders” I implore you to give it a chance because you will not be disappointed.
A rounder is defined as “a hustler” or “a dissolute or rakish person”, someone not to be trusted or believed…so why is it then that this film works on so many levels and is oh so very difficult for me to categorise it to a genre?
Starring a very youthful Matt Damon (fresh from his turn as Private Ryan in Steven Spielberg’s epic “Saving Private Ryan”) as Mike McDermott a former rounder who is working the legitimate life in order to put himself through law school. Damon exudes coolness, charm, and bucket loads of integrity in the role of the man trying to go legit for his girlfriend and to make a real go for the future.
We want him to succeed. We like the guy. But we know that there is more there…layers…and Damon carries the duality of his role with ease, just as it was easy for the audience to see that this actor was destined for bigger roles.
Edward Norton (who was to follow this role with an Oscar nominated performance in “American History X”) is the embodiment of his moniker – Worm. From the first moment on screen to his last, Worm is a slimy, charismatic, and selfish character but one that the Norton plays with relish and the audience can see that he is having a lot of fun with the role.
McDermott and Worm are best friends from school who have a history of rounding together and while they have a difference in personality and morals, they are 2 sides of the same coin.
Worm IS the conflict in the drama which keeps the story moving, without the conflict, the worm doesn’t turn (I knew that I could insert that in somewhere…)
Martin Landau’s portrayal of Judge Abe Petrovsky is one of the highlights. His story of the Yeshiva is brilliantly performed and really hammers home the theme of the destiny and self knowledge to the audience.
John Malkovich as Teddy KGB is an interesting figure, and the Mike’s voice over articulates what we the audience are thinking, he doesn’t look like much…but you know that he shouldn’t be messed with…I did like the oreo’s though, a very nice quirk.
I think that one of the things that I love about this film is that there are so many layers and during every viewing I find something new to appreciate about it. The central theme is about the acceptance of destiny, the inability to fight the inevitable, about knowing who you are and the pressures and expectations that we place on ourselves and our friends.
The relationship between McDermott and Worm is like watching a compulsive gambler bet his mortgage pay check on the roulette table, you know what is going to happen but there is always hope that it could turn out differently…and I still feel like that every time I watch it!
So what didn’t I like about this film…well namely its Gretchen Moll as Jo (Mike’s girlfriend). I have nothing against Gretchen Moll and I think she did a fine job here but the character is possessive, high maintenance, and I really wouldn’t be changing anything to accommodate her if I were Mike McDermott…in a heartbeat I would have spent a little more time reconnecting with Famke Janssen as Petra. Yes, yes I would.