Owning Mahowny

Based on a true story, this film has been described as the "Lost Weekend" of gambling movies, and that is probably an accurate description. Philip Seymour Hoffman takes another turn as a depressing weirdo playing this bank manager who scams his employer out of millions of dollars which he pisses away at casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Dan Mahowny (Hoffman) is the true addict, ignoring everything special in his life for the game.

I like Hoffman, but I can't escape the feeling that he is being given too much credit as an actor. It seems like every critic is raving about him, yet I can't shake the notion that he always plays similar roles. Seeing him as another awkward loser with a problem didn't do anything to help my opinion of him. Fortunately for him, he does an amazing job at playing the loser. Minnie Driver was almost unrecognizable to me as Mahowny's girlfriend Belinda. For me, the stand-out performance, however, was John Hurt, who was just wonderful as an Atlantic City casino boss.

This film did an amazing job of conveying the disconnect inside the head of gambling addicts, ignoring the odds and insisting that they will win big. While the film had some minor melodramatic moments, it also was a fantastic (if not depressing) look into a world that most people never see. It is difficult to see this film and leave the theater happy, but it is still a film worth seeing.