Sunday, April 20, 2008


For weeks now we've taken in episodes of the British drama, Chancer. This was one of Clive Owen's earliest roles for British television as a rogue investor who is asked to bail out a failing car manufacturing company. It begins with his character (Stephen Crane) advising his boss to invest in this company through the advise of his girlfriend, who works in stock trading. Of course it doesn't go as he wanted (or does it?) and one complication leads to another, and layer after layer of challenges and the plot soon thickens. There are subplots involving other characters but it all ties in with the grand story. There are affairs, double- crossings, cheatings, characters left stranded and a few ironic chuckles. The dialogue between Clive Owen and his boss' character (played by Leslie Philips of the Harry Potter films) is brilliant everyone is sharp tongued, quick-witted and you don't know who is going to get conned next, you don't know what quick scheme Stephen Crane will devise to bail someone out of some situation (that he probably started or got them into in the first place).
  Clive Owen looks like a teenager in this role and his charm and humor make him a favorable character. With director Mike Hodges (the original and still superior Get Carter) he made Croupier, a cruel but enjoyable extension of his Chancer character and later I'll Sleep When I'm Dead which gave him broader exposure in the states... and now he's a household name soon to be starring in Sin City 2.
  I was trying to imagine Chancer remade in the U.S. as a character drama set in the 80's but it wouldn't be as good as this. The writing is amazingly "on" and the plot always leaves you guessing as to what con he's going to pull next, yet caring about whom he's stepped on to get results. It could have been a great movie but so much would have had to be cut out it would have paled. Currently available to rent from Greencine on a six disk set.

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