The film Even Money was directed by Mark Rydell, and was released in theatres in mid-2007. Labelled as an American crime film, this film is about gambling addiction in the same way Trainspotting was about drug addiction. There are no remedies, or solutions provided in the film that although showing a thin veneer of respectability and social conscience, is mostly just a gruesome view of how gambling affects three interlocking stories as they wind down to their inevitable destruction.

The Gambling in Specifics

The term gambling is extremely broad in this context and some clarity should be provided. In the first story, Carolyn Carver, who is played by Kim Basinger, become hooked on slots play. Video slot machines are an extremely popular form of playing for money, due to the low cost high winning possibility of the platform. A number of early wins on these machines, which are designed to be addictive, can easily convince people that they could win huge amounts and their play, like Carolyn’s, becomes frenetic and utterly compulsive. Also, as she does, players often graduate to roulette and blackjack as higher risk and volatility options. Carolyn seems almost possessed and in addition to the casino play, places high stakes sports bets, in this case with a psychopathic bookmaker.

Two More Wretched Tales

In the next vignette, the ugly side of sports betting is displayed. Clyde Snow, played by Forest Whitaker owes his bookie so much money that he becomes desperate after numerous beatings and persuades his younger brother who is a college basketball star, to fix scores in basketball matches. This naturally does not end well, and the brothers’ basketball coach finds out about the score fixing. Not only does this particular vignette describe how easy it is to become entangled in match fixing in sport, but how this desperate situation can tear family bonds apart in the most gut-wrenching fashion.

The final tale of woe is devoted to the bookies themselves similarly to AFL grand final bets has to offer. Two bookies who are up-and-coming in the business and beginning to realise the benefits of their nasty vocation. They are having to live with the things that they have done, and are beginning to fray at the edges, and try to comfort their conscience by claiming that are merely performing a service. This partnership implodes when one of them cracks, and agrees to go under cover, wearing a wire.

In Even Money the catalyst and driving force in the plot is played by Tim Roth, who, as Victor, is a master manipulator major financier to the bookies. His psychopathic behaviour is the unstoppable force that causes the disruption in all the participants’ lives.

A Film of Specific Structure

Even Money is therefore a collection of personal catastrophes, where the primary cause is gambling addiction, or addiction to the gambling industry. The screenplay was written by Robert Tannen. The producer is Bob Yari, who was also the producer of the film Crash, which had a similar story development. All in all, this film is less about even money, and more about just how uneven the money is when the stakes become high, and how this vicious cycle can only ever have one winner. And it’s not the player.