New in Theaters: ‘The Gambler’

Mark Wahlberg in 'The Gambler' (Paramount Pictures)
Mark Wahlberg educates the youth in ‘The Gambler’ (Paramount Pictures)

In the newest film from William Monaghan, writer of The Departed, Mark Wahlberg plays a professor who’s burning the candle at both ends, what with all the late-night gambling, fooling around with students, and those loan sharks who keep dropping by.

The Gambler opened wide on Christmas Day as a curious piece of award-film counter-programming. My review is at Film Journal International:

In the world of The Gambler, a hyperactive head-scratcher of an addle-brained disaster, many things are possible. Compulsive gamblers can play hand after hand of blackjack where the cards magically fall their way. Mobsters freely dispense philosophical koans like beads thrown from a Mardi Gras float. Level-headed, beautiful blondes get weak at the knees at the approach of self-centered boors. Mark Wahlberg can play a novelist and professor of literature. The film’s sense of realism is, to put it mildly, elastic. Not that this would necessarily matter were the material at hand more compelling. But this is a pulp confection that never manages to commit to the ludicrousness of its central conceit and ends up shortchanging the entire enterprise…

Here’s the trailer:

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