The Card Counter – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Card Counter – A Character Flush of High Bets

Within the intensity, a situation turns within the ideals of one.  In that suspense, the moment can be gripping, but it all depends on the complexion of character, mood and directive.  This is true for any story, especially in the film.  In this review, I look at the latest indie/drama that drives the intensity of haunted memories.  Placed against the backdrop of casinos and card games, it is a story that weaves ideals of redemption in unwanted situations.  With a strong lead and methodical storytelling, The Card Counter is a journey of consequences without a true winning hand.

The story follows William Tell (Oscar Isaac), a man who lives his life counting cards on the gambling circuit.  Through low-risk stakes, will he be able to find closure of a haunted past.  The general outline of this film is built upon the simple idea of redemption.  From the beginning, we are dropped into the world of card counting through the eyes of the main character, William Tell.  Through his monologue, we get hints of his military background, time in prison and why he became involved with gambling.  Through subtle expressions and methodical direction, we are drawn into the character’s story through a retrospective of solitude.  The visual aesthetics are driven through meaningful interpretations of slow building motions.  Watching Tell interact at the card table, in his hotel room or with random people adds to the rawness the atmosphere.  This slow burn ironically builds up an intense feeling (of the journey), paralleling his skills at the table with his own internal conflict.  That perspective of ‘behind the mask’ is gimmicky but adds a layer of intrigue with his motives of card counting at the casinos.  The ominous is built through the eyes of perception, as each unrelated moment creates a haze of encounters that provides some explanation to the character’s past.  With each layer being peeled, he encounters two individuals that add depth to the redemption foundation, Cirk (Tye Sheridan) and La Linda (Tiffany Haddish). 

With the introduction of these two characters, it provides a humanistic side to the unhinging caricature of William Tell.  Their involvement in his escapades creates a triangular effect on his military past.  The layers of his military background start to influence the present, unwinding his solitude within his world of card counting (at the casinos).  He realizes that Cirk and La Linda provided prospective paths of new beginnings, but also marks relationships that become a constant flux of anxiety and trust.  These complexities are driven by conversations of subtlety, marking suspense through cues of character moments and visual aesthetics.  As Tell sees a small window of hopefulness, it all becomes fractured by the unwanted aspects of human emotions.  This leads into a third act of an ironic twist on the redemption motif, leading into a climax of ironic closure.  The Card Counter is a slow burn of a character’s journey of redemption.  If you are a fan of subtle suspense, indie/dramas or character focused stories, this is one for you.  For those interested, it is worth the full price of admission.    

Full Score – 4 out of 5 (Full Price)

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