By William Wolf

EVEN MONEY  Send This Review to a Friend

Kim Bassinger has a sad role in “Even Money,” directed by Mark Rydell from a screen story and screenplay by Robert Tannen. She’s a wife, mother and novelist addicted to gambling to the extent that she is secretly using up the family’s life savings and neglecting motherly duties to her resentful teenage daughter as well as the relationship with her husband. The film is engrossing, but the trouble is that the story becomes too diffuse instead of focusing sufficiently on the most interesting aspect of the plot—the woman’s addiction.

Bassinger as Carolyn is effective, but in addition to the introduction of Danny DeVito as a failed magician with dreams of become a success, there is a side parallel addiction plot thread of a brother indebted to mobsters trying to get out from under his gambling debts by pressuring his basketball star brother to shave points. As Walter, DeVito convinces Bassinger that he can be her financial savior. Meanwhile, excellent actor Forest Whitaker manages to be pitiful as the desperate Clyde, who ultimately wants to do right by his brother despite the risk to his own life.

Tim Roth is menacing as the unscrupulous hood in the unscrupulous gambling world. His acting is overdone, as is frequently the occasion with Roth. Ray Liotta has a rather thankless role as Tom, the bewildered and increasingly resentful husband whose life becomes a shambles as a result of Carolyn’s secret casino forays. Kelsey Grammer has a so-so role as a detective.

There is much melodrama and a hefty dose of cynicism. Rydell is able to provide a realistic atmosphere along with the shattered dreams, and the perspective on life’s losers struggling to become winners holds our attention. But the plot is too overburdened. Less might have made the film more sharply focused. A Yari Film Group release.


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