The British neo-noir film The Croupier (1998), directed by Mike Hodges and starring the charismatic figure of Clive Owen, will forever leave its mark on the film niche depicting the pulling allure of gambling – a social phenomenon forming an immersive attention-absorbing atmosphere.
The protagonist, Jack Manfred, desires to be a writer in life, an endeavor whose beginnings are not straightforward or lucrative until you grab the reader's attention and manage to hold and monetize it. For that to happen, however, the author will have to tell a story that captivates, a different story, a life perspective unfamiliar to the reader that arouses enduring curiosity on the way to its completion. Jack has no such story, no idea how even to compose one. He needs a job. That is when his father, by contacting people at a well-known casino in London, arranges for him an interview for a job as a croupier at the casino, knowing that his boy could do well in the field but also with a hidden agenda. Jack knows and has more skills in gambling than ordinary people, thanks to his father, whose passion he has tried to pass on to his son, but he is not there ‘for a career, but just for a job.'
Jack quickly fits into the insane world of gambling and will eventually have more than an eye-catching story for his future novel. By witnessing every day what it's like to be on the one side and feeling what it's like to be on the other, he becomes a superior observer of all the action – the best place to have. Every day, his position will expose him to new people on both sides of the roulette wheel of life, from whom, thanks to his cool-headed and deeply observant nature, he will glean invaluable insights into the mystical world of gambling.
A little less, this inexplicably attractive force will consume Jack himself, who insists on his “I don't gamble” rule, which technically he will never break, but later he will meet the feeling that overwhelms those people who “don't do it for the money but to defy reality,” to defy the odds. For a moment, Jack will even forget about his novel, totally absorbed by all the scenes in his vivid new world, but eventually, the extraordinary impressions he accumulates day after day will produce a clear picture in his head of what he wants to present and will inspire him to boldly begin the process of writing the novel.
Jack will experience directly what it's like to be on the other side of gambling, precisely when he meets a casino player who offers him a tempting offer to be an accomplice in a casino heist. That's when Jack will unlock his gambling self, which he even mistakes as another identity with another name – Jake, refusing to acknowledge the effect it has had on him. He believes that even considering the offer, which carries its share of risks, can only be the work of Jake, his gambling self.
The subsequent events will add to the fascinating novel that Jack will eventually publish anonymously, and the story will draw strong reader interest. Despite his novel's success, everything that happened in this compelling world would make a lasting mark on his mind, and he will continue his journey of being a croupier.