Love him or hate him, director Paul Schrader has a singular style and vision all his own.
The brash, calculating filmmaker finds comfort in chaos and revels in revenge and morality tales.
So it’s no surprise that his The Card Counter once again explores whether one truly can escape the horrific sins of their past.
This intense, calculated drama follows William, an ex-military interrogator who moonlights as a poker player. His attempts to leave behind a tumultuous, dark past are thwarted by a mysterious young man.
He’s offered the chance at revenge by Cirk, but is caught between his new life gambling for new business partner La Linda, and settling scores from the memories and events he left behind.
The internal struggle felt here rings authentic, and Schrader creates an unbridled, evocative film that’s impossible to ignore.
Oscar Isaac is singularly revelatory in this cold, calculated role as William, and Tiffany Haddish surprises as La Linda. Tye Sheridan is characteristically good here, as is Willem Dafoe in a small, quiet turn.
It’s an effort I won’t soon forget, and one of the absolute best films of 2021 so far.