The Card Counter

The Card Counter ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Gave me a fresh respect for Schrader and at the same time, once the ending took shape, I had to accept that he's clearly still up to his usual bullshit. Until then I was having a great time. I kind of enjoy the repeated riffs on Travis Bickle and the brooding, burdened dude who would rather make an elaborate, obsessive effort to minimize his risks and control the world than go to therapy. He's sitting at a small table with a drink and a journal, in the wee hours, teetering between hero and anti-hero? Great! He's gotten caught up with a young person in trouble, offering the possibility of making some gesture at commitment and engagement? Fantastic! But I'm tired of Schrader's rigging the game so that it always comes down to the pull of violence and the hope to be redeemed by love. This is where men already are — to the point where our American male antiheroes just cut out the villain proxies and stage their violent outbursts, as often as not, on the women who have failed to dish out the redemptive love men have come to expect (partly from the movies).

That said, the movie has gorgeous moments and you can't go wrong watching Oscar Isaac like a hawk for two hours. He's at least as good at embodying this classic Schrader protagonist as his forebears, and he makes it look truly magnetic and suave.

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