| Can you really make a movie about poker? Want to
read a poker players handbook on celluloid? I don't think so. So, as hard as The
Rounders tries to be about poker, it's about people. How good are the insights, how
interesting are the people, how real are the relationships? The Rounders comes up
short too many cards to put together a winning movie. But the cards are interesting enough
to keep you in the pot from the ante to the last bet.
Michael McDermott is a poker player who also happens to be a crack second year law student at a New York University. Grinding out conservative winnings at poker has paid his way through school, but the lure of the big game, the thrill of the spotlight of Las Vegas and The World Championships of Poker are more than Michael can withstand. When Michael gets a taste of the harsh reality of losing the big hand, he swears off the game to save his relationship with his beautiful live-in comrade in law. The worm turns when Michael's close friend and fellow shark "Worm" is released from prison where he hustled inmates and guards at the game he plays well. There's romance, nastiness, a dash of this and that on the road to the big game. The world of poker has a continuous sleazy stream of smoke running through in the games that count. Will Michael find his way through the mist of temptation?
John Dahl is almost a throwback to filmmakers of the past. There is an efficiency about
his work, a cleanliness that makes storytelling the prime task of the movie, just as it
should be. There are no fancy cuts, no camera angles that call attention to themselves.
Dahl gives the actors room to express themselves and creates a consistent picture.