the fresh films reviews

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Owning Mahowny (2003)

Directed by:
Richard Kwietniowski
104 minutes
Produced by:
Alessandro Camon
Andras Hamoni
Seaton McLean
Written by (based on a book by Gary Stephen Ross):
Maurice Chauvet

Cast includes:

Dan Mahowny Philip Seymour Hoffman
Belinda Minnie Driver
Victor Foss John Hurt
Frank Perlin Maury Chaykin



Brilliant portrayal of a young man and his compulsive addiction to gambling. It is a thoroughly painful film, very rarely pleasant to watch. Many movies have been made about this subject, but few with the intensity and conviction as Owning Mahowny. The movie is based on a real story that took place in Canada in the early 80s, but this is a universal story - applying to thousands of gamblers around the globe. For Dan Mahowny, gambling isn't simply an addiction it is the meaning of his life. And as the downward spiral passes the point of no return, the concern he has is not the fear of getting caught, but the fear of not being able to gamble anymore.

The film is based around characters, and in particular the title character. This is the first time I've seen Philip Seymour Hoffman in a clear-cut leading role. The young character actor who've delivered fantastic supporting roles for a number of years has few problems carrying a film on his shoulders. His performance here is so detailed, nuanced and intense that to not empathize with him is impossible. But Hoffman never descend to cheap tricks for sympathy it is a truly masterful performance. Compelling is also John Hurt in an interesting role divided between greed and an almost homo-erotic fascination. Owning Mahowny is not the movie to choose for entertainment, but it's a very powerful motion picture that explores a problem and a character with insight and devotion.

Copyright 18.12.2004 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang [HAVE YOUR SAY]