Croupier (1998)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Crime Drama  |   Release Date - Apr 21, 2000 (USA)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - Germany , France , United Kingdom , Ireland   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This dark crime drama and sleeper independent hit from the United Kingdom represents a comeback of sorts for director Mike Hodges, who bookends his career by doing his best work since the similarly bleak Get Carter (1971). Like Hodges' classic debut, Croupier is individuated by a cynical central character reluctantly navigating his way through a world he understands all too well but has tried to leave behind in an effort to create a "better" life for himself. This interest in the British class system and Hodges' skeptical, if sympathetic, view of those struggling to rise above it through whatever (not entirely legal) means necessary is an intellectually engaging, recurring motif not utilized often enough in his otherwise spotty career. A breakthrough performance is delivered in Croupier by lead actor Clive Owen, whose bravura acting, along with the rest of the film, was rendered ineligible for American awards due to the brief release of Croupier on international television in 1998, a disappointing technicality that ignited controversy among the film's champions.