Owning Mahowny (2003)


Crime | Drama | Thriller


Richard Kwietniowski




Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver, Maury Chaykin, John Hurt, Sonja Smits, Ian Tracey, Jason Blicker, Chris Collins, Matthew Ferguson, Janine Theriault, Conrad Dunn, Mike "Nug" Nahrgang, Philip Craig, Tony Munch, M. J. Kang


The story of Dan Mahowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a bank manager with a gambling problem ranging from horses to sports, to Atlantic City, that created dummy accounts at his back to gamble.


Just like the protagonist of this film, I have an interest for gambling. Unlike the protagonist though, I don't have a gambling problem,  I'm just interested in seeing how the human mind works and how far someone can go. And what a better way to explore this topic than watching a film based on a true story? I'm pretty sure there is none, especially if the film is well structured. And this is that case.

Just like "The Gambler", "Owning Mahowny" is a detailed and devastating study of gambling addiction superbly portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

As mentioned above, the film is based on the true story of Brian Molony, a Canadian bank manager with a gambling problem that stole over $ 10 million of the bank's money, and right from the beginning it starts building tension keeping you wonder how far will he go, following the events that brings to the downfall of the addicted protagonist.

The filmmakers allow the story to develop slowly, giving the audience the chance to get to know Mahowny and to care for him. And you actually get to a point where it is painful to watch Mahowny digging himself deeper and deeper holes, and you start hoping he will, soon or later, stop. But he is an addict, and just like all the addicts, he doesn't care about anything or anyone, he just thinks about his next hit.

Then there is the real reason this film is worth watching: Philip Seymour Hoffman. He wasn't just a great actor, he was a genius. He owned every single role he played, and he surely did not make any exception here, where he plays the leading role, Dan Mahowny, in a way that no one else could, and shows us that beneath the addiction lies a desperate soul. John Hurt also gives another great performance as the casino owner intrigued with the addicted gambler, and Minnie Driver is perfect as Mahowny's girlfriend.

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