House Of Games


That longtime trickster - - and sometime playwright-cum-director - - David Mamet may have played the same hand too often now. With the recent Heist, his singular, slippery style began to show the strain of a schtick. Who'd fall for that?

But his directorial debut still bites, largely because its bluff-after-bluff construction is grounded by a genuine, searching study of psychiatry, gambling and US class and morals.

As middle-class shrink Dr Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse) visits the titular, grubby gambling dive to confront Mike (Joe Mantegna), a gambler bothering one of her patients, she finds that their callings share a con-and-seduce aesthetic. Their moral codes, mind, are worlds apart...

The sole problem with the movie is that you're in no doubt whose house of games it is: Mamet's. Sometimes, it sails a little close to being an exercise. What holds it firm, though, is its razor-keen, layered dialogue, controlled performances, meticulous plot and killer finale. It's played taut and tight, without the distractions of flashy visuals or actorly tics, and it shows what this off-the-boil director could do when he was cooking. You can trust us on that. Honest...

Film Details

  • tbc
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: March 1st 2004

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