By Samantha Ofole-Prince
‘Never risk what you can’t afford to lose.’ A key quote from the movie which aptly describes this compelling drama that follows the lives of nine individuals whose fates becomes entwined in a web of addiction and gambling.
With a stellar cast, great direction and an appealing story line, Basinger and Whitaker play the central characters. Basinger is Carolyn Carver, a writer by day and gambler by night desperately trying to break even after gambling away her family’s entire life savings whilst Whitaker plays another compulsive gambler who owes several bookies (Mohr and Sullivan) and has to rely on his little brother (Cannon) who is an aspiring pro-basketball player to also break even. Kelsey Grammer in a role which is a departure from his previous comedic flicks plays a local detective and with DeVito playing a washed up magician, it rounds up an amazing cast in this unique and interesting approach to the seedy world of addiction.
Interesting, relatable and ferociously dramatic, "Even Money" does remarkably well in examining the everyday life and the choices we make and the very dark and disturbing world of addiction. There is a wonderful camaraderie between Oscar winner Whitaker and Cannon who has had a huge popularity as a hip-hop artist, plus the paring of Basinger and DeVito is electric. Liotta as Basinger’s husband also steers away from his previous typecast roles playing a literature professor anxious to keep his family together.
On the downside, "Even Money" starts off with a slow build and can almost be accused of being too slow, but with an explosive ending there is gratification in store. This is a serious movie about gambling addictions and the extent addicts would go to get even. This one gets a firm thumbs up.