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Owning Mahowny [Import]
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Philip Seymour Hoffman adds another great performance to his gallery of losers in Owning Mahowny, an engrossing, fact-based comedy-drama about the perils of compulsive gambling. The subject is hardly new to movies, but as Toronto bank-loan manager Dan Mahowny, Hoffman brings fresh depth and tortured humanity to his portrayal of a man who helplessly feeds his pathological need to gamble with millions in embezzled bank money that he can't afford to lose. His supportive wife (Minnie Driver, barely recognizable beneath a plain-looking wig and glasses) is aware of the problem but not its severity, and in fulfilling the promise of his debut feature Love and Death on Long Island, British director Richard Kwietniowski strikes a delicate balance of humor, adrenalin, and escalating tension, guiding Hoffman, Driver, and an excellent supporting cast (including Long Island's John Hurt) in a quietly suspenseful study of Mahowny's ill-fated impulse. Set in the early 1980s but timeless in its study of dysfunctional behavior, Owning Mahowny is a safe bet for film lovers everywhere. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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In OWNING MAHOWNY, based on a true story, Hoffman is cast in the title role as the high ranking executive in charge of loans for a Toronto bank. Mahowny also has a gambling addiction, and is indebted to his bookie (Maury Chakin) for slightly over ten grand. To cover his marker, Mahowny creates a fictional loan account, and draws cash from it. Going a step further, he approves cash loans to an existing but unsuspecting customer with a large credit limit, and takes the money on weekend trips to Atlantic City, where he consistently loses at dice, cards, and roulette. By the time he's found out, Mahowny has embezzled over $10 million.
The creators of this film made no attempt whatsoever to render the Mahowny persona attractive to the audience, and it's a wonder he even has a fiancee, Lisa (Minnie Driver). Indeed, Mahowny is so focused on gambling that when the casino manager, Mr. Foss (John Hurt), sends to his suite a complimentary courtesan, who sheds her fur coat to reveal not inconsiderable charms, Mahowny only tells her "You've made a mistake." And he really means it; he only courts Lady Luck. Our hero is so indifferent to anything other than playing the odds that he isn't even somebody with whom you'd consider having a friendly beer. He's single-minded to the point of boorishness.Read more ›
These are the opening words of "Owning Mahowny," a fascinating real-life tale of a compulsive gambler whose life falls to pieces when he begins embezzling funds from the bank where he works in order to feed his obsession. Dan Mahowny's "secret life" became public in the early 1980's when he was finally arrested and convicted on charges of bank theft. Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has made a career out of playing sad sack, tormented souls, gives one of his richest performances to date as Mahowny, a mild-mannered man caught in the grip of that compulsive sickness known as gambling addiction. Minnie Driver plays his devoted girlfriend who loves Dan dearly but who cannot bear to stand by and watch helplessly as he slowly but inexorably destroys his life.
If the film were only about Mahowny's gambling problem, it would be no different from countless TV movies made on the same subject. What sets this film apart is the way in which writer Maurice Chauvet (working off the original novel by Gary Stephen Ross) and director Richard Kwietniowski make the background of the story as compelling as the foreground. The astute, observant script focuses as much on the ins and outs of the casino and gambling worlds as it does on the personal travails of its main character. Particularly intriguing is the way in which high rollers are followed and coddled by the casino owners using both high tech equipment like cameras and monitors as well as plain old-fashioned flattery, obsequiousness and deceit.Read more ›
The story is paced so that it all seems possible. We see the gambler at his trade and way the habit takes hold of him. He plays all the casino games and, even when he might be ahead for a while, will always throw his winnings back on the tables. I found myself feeling sorry for the man and loving him at the same time. His performance comes across as so real and immediate that I just wanted to put my hands on his shoulders and shake him into reality. The sense of place is perfect too. The world of the casinos compared with the world of the quiet bank is an excellent contrast. Through it all he remains an unassuming nice guy and it's easy to see why his girlfriend is willing to stay with him. I really loved this simple story and feel it is one of the most excellent films ever made about compulsive gambling. Highly recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
This Philip Seymour Hoffman film was recommended by a friend and a great recommendation it was. A masterful performance by its star.Published 21 months ago by Fiasco
Amazing how far a person can dive into the world of gambling addiction. Sad really. Excellent movie!Published on Jan. 24 2010 by Amazon User
A truly awful movie.
Other than a great performance by Hoffman - he relies more on his physical presence than on the script's ludicrous words to establish his character - this... Read more
Set in Toronto, Canada during the early 1980's OWNING MAHOWNY is an engrossing and interesting character study of Dan Mahowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who embezzles money from his... Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2004 by S. Calhoun
This is a perfect movie for people who love a good story with good characters and don't need to rely on CGI effects or gratuitous violence and sex to enjoy themselves. Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2004 by Donald Chewms
Philip Seymour Hoffman is truly one of the finest actors of this generation. I've been mesmerized by him ever since I saw him in the otherwise-dismal Twister (yes, Twister), where... Read morePublished on Dec 9 2003 by FairiesWearBoots8272
Let me preface this by saying that I'd read "Stung" years ago and found it incredible.
I was very disappointed with the movie. Read more
Focuses more on the financial aspect of the money laundering scheme Mr Mahowny was running than anything else, doesn't deal with the couple's relationship and/or Mr Mahowny's... Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2003 by Philip Bonn