We’ve all been there at some point in our lives; we’re sitting on top of the world, kicking ass, and then we lose it all, making us question what the hell do we do now? Rounders is the perfect movie to sum up our downtrodden luck.
What I just summed up was the beginning of the movie. That’s a bold movie since this happens at the end of the story in a lesser film, but the movie is more interested in the struggle to get your mojo back.
The film hinges on the narration by Mike (Matt Damon) to explain the ins and and outs of poker in all its forms, even causing me to learn that you’re not playing the cards, but the person, or people around you. That poker is a skill game, nothing to do with luck.
And that there sets the film apart from other card shark films, like The Cincinnati Kid, its compelling need to teat the game as seriously as possible. Joey Kinish (John Turturro) explaining that this isn’t a “grind” to him, he has rent, alimony, child support. You know, responsibility and obligations. Like an adult. As much of a fucking asshole Worm (Edward Norton) was, he had the right idea of not giving up your talent because of one bad night.
But all that shit doesn’t matter if the final battle, and it was a battle, didn’t mean jackshit. Teddy KGB (John Malkovich) is a douchebag of the highest order. You really want him to get his ass handed to him. This last game builds a tension that just becomes thrilling. Once again, the narration allowed a laymen like me to follow what the hands were, and the next strategic move is. Once the dust settles, you breathe a sigh of relief, and a tear of joy.
All in all, what hits me is the moral of the best thing to do when you’ve lost everything is to start over; not running away from your gift like a dumbass. When people talk about that its the journey not the destination, they’re talking about Rounders. Because if this guy can go through this living hell of a journey and ante up again, then maybe we all can.