Owning Mahowny (2003)
by (based on a book by Gary Stephen Ross):
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.