Jack Manfred is an aspiring writer who to make ends meet, takes a job as a croupier. Jack remains an observer, knowing that everything in life is a gamble and that gamblers are born to lose. Inevitably, he gets sucked into the world of the casino which takes its toll on his relationships and the novel he is writing.
Although the first draw of the National Lottery took place in late 1994 with a television programme hosted by Noel Edmunds, Croupier accurately depicts that by the late-90s the obsession with speculative finance was no longer limited to the financial district of Canary Wharf: even everyday living in financially-infused early Blair era was essentially one big neoliberal gamble.
There's a very nice touch in the reveal at the end of the film in that the fraud and theft that Britain once exported to South Africa is now returning (quite uncomfortably!) to the imperial core. And this, of course, is read as a form of 'betrayal'; a response not dissimilar to how the UK press felt when former colonies expressed disdain for their former masters.
But whilst not at all a bad film, Croupier fails to rise to the level of its obvious comparator, John Mackenzie's The Long Good Friday (1980) starring an unforgettable Bob Hoskins in the central role. Still, like this classic Thatcher-era film, there is something undeniably 1990s about Croupier, least of all in its washed-out and paradoxically tawdry view of London. And the film is, alas, almost fatally compromised by its overuse of voiceover. Can you imagine Alain Delon's professional killer in Le Samouraï (1967) telling us everything he was thinking…?