Nice guys of OKCroupier
In Mike Hodge’s Croupier (1998), Clive Owen goes from sitting at this desk in comfortable writer-clothes to sitting at this desk in a tuxedo. His hair goes from blonde to black. And Clive changes his novel from a sanguine soccer story to a hopeless casino heist. He also slips in and out of his book’s character, Jake, confusing him with his own, Jack.
We gain the fruits of this transformation at the very beginning. Jack narrates the movie in heatlamp prose—which is fitting, since the narration may be the book Jack is writing about his life as a Croupier. The narration is a way of imposing some order, including chapter headings, on an experience that is disorienting. Different characters (staff and customers alike) seem to be playing different scams, and you’re not quite sure how they may intersect. A woman is fired for failing a drug test—who tipped the boss off? Did anyone? Jack can remain above it all, but if he wants to understand, he has to descend into the cesspool.
The film is overloaded with little visual and narrative talismans, so you’re not quite sure when one will turn up again: a necklace, a car, an answering machine. And the narration is such a thick soup—Owen excels at charming inflection—that any disruptions, like his girlfriend freaking out when Jack comes home late even once, feel like exposed nerves.