Then She Found Me.

Starring Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne and Kate Bosworth. Directed by Robert Luketic
Running Time: 123 mins.
Rated: Rated M (moderate violence)

21 (for those who are not gambling-informed, 21 is not the age for adulthood but the total for cards to win at blackjack). This is a film about blackjack, about systems and gambling, about ambition and greed and about lives coming undone.

Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, The Other Boleyn Girl) plays Ben Campbell, an intelligent student who needs a scholarship to go to Harvard medical school. He is diligent, has some good, if nerdy, friends who are caught up in robotics for a science competition. The head of the scholarship board thinks that Ben is competent but asks to be dazzled by his life and initiative. Ben tells this story of 21.

Handpicked by smarmy maths lecturer, Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey doing his thing) to join an elite group who are working on counting card techniques to win at blackjack in Las Vegas, he hesitates and then agrees. Lots of blackjack sequences and lots of winning - and onsequent self-indulgent celebration.

However, behind the scenes is a tough security programmer (Laurence Fishburne) who has no scruple about bashing to get information from cheats at the casino tables. It is inevitable that the security man and Ben will finally have to deal with each other. This provides some twists and some possible (temporary?) respite for Ben. His life is complicated by his covering his tracks about visits to Vegas, his attraction towards one of his partners (Kate Bosworth), his ignoring his friends and deceiving his mother. He also falls foul of Professor Rosa which heads us towards a sleight of hand and a climax.

While the film revels in the winning system and the hedonistic rewards of lots of cash, it offers some warnings about gambling and its consequences, especially the unforeseen consequences from outside intervention.

It is well acted and has its suspenseful moments - and another bit of self-indulgence at the end when it seems that gambling and its winnings are an end in themselves for everyone, no matter what.

Sony Out 16th May

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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