The Card Counter

The Card Counter
  • 2021
  • 1h 51min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Paul Schrader
  • Cast: Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, Willem Dafoe

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Paul Schrader takes on a story of redemption in The Card Counter as only he can, producing a slow-burn thriller full of tense atmosphere and thought-provoking questions about morality. Tonally very different from his last outing, First Reformed, it’s pure Schrader – a haunting story about another lonely soul, who grapples with his present and his unspeakable past.

"a slow-burn thriller full of tense atmosphere"

Soldier turned professional card player, William Tell (Oscar Isaac) learned to count cards in prison, a talent he uses as he travels from casino to casino. Now, in anonymous gambling houses, he sits at blackjack and poker tables, counting and betting. He’s a disciplined player and a discreet gambler, winning just enough to avoid unwelcome attention. But chance encounters with La Linda (Tiffany Haddish) and Cirk (Tye Sheridan), pull Tell in different directions, radically affecting him and his future. La Linda wants to turn William into a star on the gambling circuit while Cirk, the son of one of William’s compatriots at Abu Ghraib, is looking for revenge against one of the prison’s evil administrators, John Gordo (Willem Dafoe). Tell is offered two paths – one to legitimacy and another to vengeance. Which will he choose? Place your bets…

Isaac gives a fierce performance as an enigmatic man who exerts extreme control over simmering violence deep within, while Sheridan is heartbreaking as the aimless misguided youth who misunderstands the consequences of his plan and Dafoe, while barely on screen, is haunting, oozing a stillness that suggests true evil. 

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Reviews & features

The Card Counter

2 Nov 20213 stars

Oscar Isaac makes a compelling centre in Paul Schrader's gambling thriller

Something of a companion piece to the brilliant 2017 drama First Reformed, The Card Counter finds Paul Schrader once again plumbing the murky depths of the male psyche as only the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull knows how. The results are less…

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