Cinema: Rounders

Directed by John Dahl

Mike (Matt Damon) is a gifted, honorable, high-stakes poker player trying to leave the game so he can finish law school. Worm (Edward Norton) is a gifted, dishonorable player given to dealing from the bottom of the deck. The mystery of Rounders is why a smart guy risks repute, not to mention life and limb, to help a dumb and self-destructive one. Still, if Rounders lacks the sardonically twisted plots and people of Dahl's best work (Red Rock West, The Last Seduction), it is, like them, well acted and atmospherically arresting. The director fails to fill this inside straight, but it's...

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