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Lady Vegas: a film on the world of gambling at the cinema

Tom Lasten 2 October 2012 - 12:20:54
Lady Vegas: a film on the world of gambling at the cinema

You've probably passed by the poster of the new film by Stephen Frears, Lady Vegas, which brings together such actors as Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Joshua Jackson. Based on one of the books by Beth Raymer, this comedy plunges us into the world of sports betting and casino games. Be careful not to let yourself be seduced by the lure of financial gain...

From book to film, an autobiography

In theaters since August 8, 2012, the new feature film by Stephan Frears is simply an adaptation of the book by novelist Beth Raymer, Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling. The thirty-something journalist of the New York Times makes us a part of her personal history in this autobiography in which she recounts the miraculous turn her life took from an occupational standpoint. Constrained to work in the sex industry to provide for her needs, Raymer also went through tough times while boxing in the ring and selling sports bets illicitly. Despite everything, a bit of good fortune arrived at the right moment and enabled the future novelist to receive a scholarship that would launch her second career.

"The thirty-something journalist of the New York Times makes us a part of her personal history in this autobiography in which she recounts the miraculous turn her life took from an occupational standpoint."

Lady Vegas tries to follow to the letter the journey of this heroine with the extraordinary fate. In her quest for better times, Beth flees the striptease clubs of the Midwest and heads straight for the City of Sin, Las Vegas. There she meets Dick – played by Bruce Willis – who introduces her to the practice of bookmaking. This is already the beginning of a new life for the former go-go dancer…

A movie lacking in emotion and authenticity

lady vegas catherine zeta jonesDespite a sexy heroine, the film is a flop.

The movie has as its principal setting the gaming circles of Nevada and places habitually frequented by undignified gamblers, each one more pathetic than the other. In this world composed almost entirely of men, the heroine tries the best she can to survive; however, the director does not create enough depth to his subject to have any chance of moving us. Indeed, the characters are poorly treated, are too highly stereotyped, and remind us all too often of the hollow protagonists one finds in American B-movies.

In the meanderings of this production without originality or interest, the single bright spot is Rebecca Hall, the English actress who manages to shine quite ably, making us forget that she previously played only supporting roles in the films of Woody Allen and Christopher Nolan. Yet her performance could have been even more striking if the director had not simply reduced her to the status of a sexy young woman, sensual and caricatured. As you will likely realize, Lady Vegas most certainly has appeal for amateurs of gambling but not to true cinema lovers.

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