Tricheurs Movie Review

Gambling and addiction are common -- maybe too common -- themes that appear regularly in the movies. But gambling addiction hasn't ever found much of a thematic foothold, despite some noble failures.

Barbet Schroeder's Tricheurs (aka Cheaters) is an underseen and unappreciated masterwork, writ small and perfectly crafted to devastate. The story follows Elric (Jacques Dutronc), a serial gambler who plies the casinos on the island of Madeira and never seems to win. Rather, it's not that he can't win, it's that he doesn't know when to quit if he does. Elric plays roulette, the game with the worst odds but which carries the highest potential payoff: $35 against a $1 bet. All it takes is a couple of big wins before Elric blows his funds on wild bets and promptly loses it all.

This makes Elric the perfect target for the local crew trying to cheat the casino. Because Elric is a notoriously high better and invariable loser, he can safely be the money man in a scam that involves three people distracting the roulette croupier in order to make a big bet after the ball has fallen. Finally, the gang pulls the stunt off successfully, and Elric proceeds to lose the winnings on subsequent spins of the wheel.

Eventually Elric falls in love with another gambler named Suzie (Bulle Ogier) and finally calms down enough to take the bump and bet trick on a world tour, racking up a huge bankroll... only he loses it yet again. Finally, down to the last of his stake, he and his girlfriend/partner devise a plan to use a rigged ball to win big. It works like a charm until Suzie (who's working the electronic device) panics and steps out for a drink. Elric proceeds to bet anyway, and promptly loses the winnings.

Up and down, up and down. Tricheurs is gut-wrenching in the way it shows how some people can never accept success. Elric is a loser of the worst sort -- destined to keep playing until he's out of money, no matter what. When you see him when for the third or fourth time, your heart actually sinks. Director Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune) proves how masterful he can be at pulling your strings and eliciting the exact opposite emotional response from you that you expect to have.

The look of the film is strictly '80s, with wide collars and awful carpeting installed a decade earlier. Dutronc shuffles through the film with the pathos of a lost puppy. You want him to win, but know full well he's a career loser. That said, the ending of the film comes out of nowhere -- and the repetition of Elric's failures can get, well, repetitious. But anyone interesting in the mindset of the gambling junkie need look no further than this small gem.

Schroeder appears on the new DVD with an interview about the film.

Cast & Crew

Director :


Comments

Tricheurs Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: NR, 1984

Editors Recommendations

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

The Cannes Film festival is sneaking up fast. The Oscars felt like they were 8 minutes ago...

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

Next weekend's CounterPoint Festival will be the event's first year at a new 5000-acre site, featuring...

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Superhero movies have been striving towards the almost unobtainable goal set...

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Ricky Gervais is "Hooked" on David Brent Again - Former Paper Merchant To Return

A return for David Brent has been mooted ever since the character was wheeled...

Ricky Gervais is

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing "Made In America" To Downtown Los Angeles

Jay Z and the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti have announced that the rapper’s...

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing

Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

The editor-in-chief of US VOGUE magazine is reportedly determined for the annual...

Anna Wintour - Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

The comedy classic 'Mrs. Doubtfire' is reportedly set to return to the big-screen...

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Of Mice And Men premiered on Broadway last night, giving critics a chance to cast...

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'

Sofia Vergara has been speaking about her nerves at shooting a ménage a trois with...

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'


More recommendations