The Card Player

Viewed – 27 September 2008  DVD

I first watched this in 2004, and recall thinking it was a mildly entertaining thriller but one that I found confusing and hard to fully enjoy.  Having now sat down and watched it for the second time, I feel much better about it.  It’s probably one of Dario Argento’s most coherent films (plot structure having never been one of his strong points), and although lacking much of the style and blood of earlier efforts, this is still good stuff.

Stefania Rocca plays police detective Anna Mari who is contacted via email by a deranged killer who wants to play internet poker games in return for the lives of his kidnapped, female victims.  Naturally the police are cautious to play the crazed killer’s game, but soon come to realise that the women’s lives are in their hands, and really there’s no other choice.  Step in British cop Liam Cunningham who is on hand to help Anna unmask the killer.

A new spin on Argento’s tired genre of giallo thrillers where a black gloved killer stalks and slashes beautiful women – he has made it an art form for over 30 years, but even he sees that change is as good as a rest.  Fans picked this film apart when it first came out due to it being so lacking in gore and violence – but in retrospect, I think the film works just as well for what you don’t see as what you do – sometimes your imagination can fill in the gaps – and anyway, isn’t there enough gore filled movies around right now to satisfy our blood lust?  I agree the whole film plays it safe throughout, but the basic idea is excellent, the performances, especially from Stefania Rocca above average (and a helluva lot better than the usual no talent actors found in an Argento flick), and the ending is silly but kind of brilliant at the same time.

Not the disaster many will have you believe.

Verdict:  3 /5


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