In a fine performance with a terrific supporting cast, James Caan plays a professor with an out of control gambling yen & some gangsters apt to make life a misery if he can't pay his debts.
I kept waiting for the standard-issue gangster plot to add up to the predictable story that seemed just about to develop; but it kept surprising me. The gangsters aren't as evil as one expects; the gambler isn't as stupid as he behaves; everyone is both exactly what they seem, plus a little more than that.
The Gambler is a surprisingly richly textured film for character even if nearly without a plot. James Caan's performance remains complicated right to that last bewildering sequence.
The film in the main potrays the gambling urge as a state of mental illness, yet submerges the viewer in the gambler's point of view so wholly that even us non-gamblers come close to the verge of getting it, if never quite fully able to grasp the whole of this character's motivation & ultimately bizarre nihilism.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl