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Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) is a master card player who trades poker for law school and a chance at making a new life with girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol). But when Mike's old friend Worm (Edward Norton) is released from gaol, Mike is faced with the temptation of dealing himself another hand in the unpredictable world of chance. At the same time he is confronted with issues of loyalty and support to his friend, who quickly gets into the debt of Russian gambling lord Teddy KGB (John Malkovich), who always gets his pound of flesh.

"It's about gambling, integrity and self respect. It's not what cards you draw, but how you play the game. We're talking about poker and we're talking about life. Rounders is liberally dosed with compelling ingredients, and like a good game, it's easy to get sucked in. It's filled with characters who have something more than first meets the eye. And what performances! Matt Damon has likeable charm that makes him more than a good looker with the dazzling toothpaste smile. He combines guts with principle; he is a do-gooder without being lily white himself. Edward Norton as Worm gives a performance loaded with nave enthusiasm a kind of Sean Penn bad boy character that you can't help liking. But it's the intoxicating John Malkovich as the seedy Russian gambling lord who steals your attention. You can smell the vodka through the screen as his "far-king rarshian" character shows all his colours and puts his cards on the table. John Turturro's masterly timing and Martin Landau's style add class, while a laid back jazzy score sets the mood. In no way is gambling glorified for a moment quite the contrary. But shining through are what positive qualities (or dastardly ones) surface from this addiction. It's about gamesmanship, fairness and honour a pretty tough game to pass by."
Louise Keller

"Rounders is full of murky, sorely underdeveloped characters, immersed in a plot which is confusing and lacking substance. One would have imagined a far more engrossing work from the director of The Last Seduction, but director Dahl has made a slow, uninvolving work, one that has little spark or energy. Apart from Damon, who is quite insipid in the lead, performances vary from the downright embarrassing (John Malkovich is dreadful as a Russian gangster) to the acceptable (Norton) to the eloquent (one of the few pleasures of this film is seeing Landau at work here) to the purely decorative (Gretchen Mol). Rounders is a film that simply lacks that dark edginess it desperately needs, and characters that engage our interest. Watching a real-life poker game is far more exciting than sitting through this meandering bore of a film."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Gretchen Mol, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Martin Landau, Famke Janssen, Michael Rispoli


PRODUCER: Joel Stillerman, Ted Demme

SCRIPT: David Levien, Brian Koppelman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean-Yves Escoffier

EDITOR: Scott Chestnut

MUSIC: Christopher Young


RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 28, 1999


VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

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