OWNING MAHOWNY

Content -2
Quality
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Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: May 02, 2003

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie
Driver, John Hurt, Chris
Collins, Maury Chakin, and Ian
Tracey

Genre: Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder Polite and
mild-mannered, but secretive,
Dan Mahowny is an assistant
bank manager in Toronto with a
passion for the ponies. His
gambling addiction has led to
a large debt with a shady, fat
bookie. Mahowny tries to beat
the odds by betting on other
sports games, but he just gets
deeper into debt. Then,
Mahowny gets an idea. He
decides to start taking large
sums of money from the credit
line of one of his rich
clients, without the client or
the bank knowing it. He
pretends to the people under
him that the client has
requested the money, then he
takes the money to make
regular payoffs to the bookie
and continue supporting his
addiction. Another brainstorm
leads Mahowny to the gambling
tables of Atlantic City, where
he grabs the attention of the
casino manager, Victor Foss.
Foss is looking for high
rollers just like Mahowny, so
that he can move up the ladder
and manage one of the casinos
in Las Vegas, the mecca of
high rollers. Mahowny's
descent continues to spiral
out of control. He even hides
his secretive life from his
girlfriend, Belinda, who
finally figures out, however,
that the man she loves has a
gambling problem. Eventually,
Mahowny gets caught and
everyone learns a lesson about
the sinful power of vice and
greed, except perhaps the
casino manager, who has helped
Mahowny siphon off $10.2
million from the bank. OWNING
MAHOWNY, based on a true
story, is a droll,
entertaining, insightful look
at the subtle temptations of
gambling addiction, but it's
also about the power of greed.
The casino manager is greedy
to lay his hands on the
seemingly limitless amount of
funds that this strange, quiet
man, Mahowny, has. Belinda is
greedy for love and attention
from Mahowny, whom she wants
to pop the question of
marriage. The bank is greedy
for rich customers who want
large amounts of credit, at
high rates of interest.
Finally, the rich customers
are greedy for large amounts
of credit so they can fund
their own personal businesses,
habits and dreams. The
screenwriter and director
handle these complex themes
and characters in a
provocative, engrossing
manner. For example, although
Mahowny's character hardly
changes throughout the story,
there's a wonderful visual
joke that brilliantly shows
the progression of Mahowny's
personal journey. Early in the
movie, Mahowny is stopped by a
casino security guard so that
a high roller with lots of
cash carried by a guarded
casino entourage can walk
through the casino to get to
the gaming tables. At the end
of the movie, a
misunderstanding about
Mahowny's activities convinces
the bank managers to give
millions more dollars in
credit to the first client
from whom Mahowny embezzled
funds. Mahowny embezzles the
millions, and it's Mahowny's
turn to keep the other
gamblers waiting while his
casino entourage escorts him
and his cash to the
tables. Philip Seymour Hoffman
is positively captivating as
Mahowny. It's a subdued
performance, however, that
requires close attention if
you want to get all the
rewarding nuances that Hoffman
puts into it. John Hurt's oily
casino manager is also an
excellent example of what a
powerful actor can do with a
juicy role. It was a complete
joy to see Hurt interact not
only with Hoffman, but also
with the other characters at
the casino. Hoffman and Hurt
are wonderfully supported by
the rest of the cast,
including Minnie Driver as the
compassionate, loving and
lonely Belinda; Chris Collins
as an honorable, friendly
casino worker who's ordered to
keep Mahowny happy; and, Maury
Chakin, TV's latest
incarnation of NERO WOLFE, as
Mahowny's single-minded
bookie. OWNING MAHOWNY is a
subtle and unassuming, but
profound, morality tale about
the power of sin. When Mahowny
gets caught, he and Belinda
are chagrined by the problems
they have created. Mahowny
even regrets the fact that his
activities have led to several
people, including Belinda,
being suspended from the bank,
and his boss being forced into
retirement. The credits inform
viewers that Mahowny served
some prison time for his
crimes, eventually married
Belinda, who stuck by him, and
was "cured" of indulging his
gambling addiction. Finally,
the credits briefly recount
how both the bank and the
casino were punished for the
bad business practices
enabling Mahowny to embezzle
all that money. Thus, the
story contains some redemptive
aspects that support the
movie's moral
worldview. OWNING MAHOWNY
contains some strong foul
language, however. There is
also a short scene where John
Hurt's casino manager, Foss,
sends a half-naked prostitute
to the large suite that the
casino has given to the
high-rolling Mahowny. Mahowny
refuses the offer. Mahowny's
gambling addiction may have
caused him to ignore his
loving girlfriend, but he has
no intentions of cheating on
her with another woman.
Ironically, Mahowny's spartan
lifestyle pleases Foss
extremely, because it means
that Foss doesn't have to give
away too many costly perks to
Mahowny in order to get
Mahowny to spend his embezzled
millions. There's also an easy
grace portrayed in this movie.
Despite the end credits, all
the guilty parties seem to get
off too easily for their
crimes and sins. Hence,
because of its adult content
and subject matter,
MOVIEGUIDEĀ® must strongly
caution viewers, including
adults, about seeing this
movie. If, however, you do go
see OWNING MAHOWNY, stay
through the credits: there's a
short visual joke about banks
and casinos that's absolutely
precious, as well as
insightful. Please address
your comments to: Michael
Barker, Tom Bernard & Marcie
Bloom Co-Presidents Sony
Pictures Classics 550 Madison
Avenue, 8th Floor New York, NY
10022 Phone: (212)
833-8833 Web Page:
www.spe.sony.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 107 minutes

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Director: Richard Kwietnioiwski

Executive Producer:

Producer: Andras Hamori, Seaton McLean
and Alessandro Camon EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS: Edward R. Pressman
and Sean Furst

Writer: Maurice Chauvet BASED ON THE
BOOK "STUNG" BY: Gary Ross

Address Comments To:

Content:

(BB, C, Acap, LL, V, S, NN, A, D, MM) Morality tale about greed and the gambling addiction, with some redemptive elements toward the end as well as some anti-banking elements; 17 mostly strong obscenities, four strong profanities and one light exclamatory profanity; bookie threatens gambler with violence if he does not pay and police pull guns on criminal in car; casino manager offers half-nude prostitute to gambler, who refuses the offer, and unmarried couple lives and sleeps together; brief upper and rear female nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, gambling and embezzlement rebuked.

GENRE: Drama

BB

C

Acap

LL

V

S

NN

A

D

MM

Summary:

OWNING MAHOWNY stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as real-life Dan Mahowny, a polite and mild-mannered, but secretive, bank manager in Toronto who embezzles millions of dollars to fund his gambling addiction. OWNING MAHOWNY is a droll, insightful, entertaining look at gambling addiction and the power of greed, with positive moral and redemptive elements, but it contains some strong foul language, brief nudity and miscellaneous immorality.

Review:

Polite and mild-mannered, but secretive, Dan Mahowny is an assistant bank manager in Toronto with a passion for the ponies. His gambling addiction has led to a large debt with a shady, fat bookie. Mahowny tries to beat the odds by betting on other sports games, but he just gets deeper into debt.

Then, Mahowny gets an idea. He decides to start taking large sums of money from the credit line of one of his rich clients, without the client or the bank knowing it. He pretends to the people under him that the client has requested the money, then he takes the money to make regular payoffs to the bookie and continue supporting his addiction.

Another brainstorm leads Mahowny to the gambling tables of Atlantic City, where he grabs the attention of the casino manager, Victor Foss. Foss is looking for high rollers just like Mahowny, so that he can move up the ladder and manage one of the casinos in Las Vegas, the mecca of high rollers.

Mahowny's descent continues to spiral out of control. He even hides his secretive life from his girlfriend, Belinda, who finally figures out, however, that the man she loves has a gambling problem. Eventually, Mahowny gets caught and everyone learns a lesson about the sinful power of vice and greed, except perhaps the casino manager, who has helped Mahowny siphon off $10.2 million from the bank.

OWNING MAHOWNY, based on a true story, is a droll, entertaining, insightful look at the subtle temptations of gambling addiction, but it's also about the power of greed. The casino manager is greedy to lay his hands on the seemingly limitless amount of funds that this strange, quiet man, Mahowny, has. Belinda is greedy for love and attention from Mahowny, whom she wants to pop the question of marriage. The bank is greedy for rich customers who want large amounts of credit, at high rates of interest. Finally, the rich customers are greedy for large amounts of credit so they can fund their own personal businesses, habits and dreams.

The screenwriter and director handle these complex themes and characters in a provocative, engrossing manner. For example, although Mahowny's character hardly changes throughout the story, there's a wonderful visual joke that brilliantly shows the progression of Mahowny's personal journey. Early in the movie, Mahowny is stopped by a casino security guard so that a high roller with lots of cash carried by a guarded casino entourage can walk through the casino to get to the gaming tables. At the end of the movie, a misunderstanding about Mahowny's activities convinces the bank managers to give millions more dollars in credit to the first client from whom Mahowny embezzled funds. Mahowny embezzles the millions, and it's Mahowny's turn to keep the other gamblers waiting while his casino entourage escorts him and his cash to the tables.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is positively captivating as Mahowny. It's a subdued performance, however, that requires close attention if you want to get all the rewarding nuances that Hoffman puts into it. John Hurt's oily casino manager is also an excellent example of what a powerful actor can do with a juicy role. It was a complete joy to see Hurt interact not only with Hoffman, but also with the other characters at the casino. Hoffman and Hurt are wonderfully supported by the rest of the cast, including Minnie Driver as the compassionate, loving and lonely Belinda; Chris Collins as an honorable, friendly casino worker who's ordered to keep Mahowny happy; and, Maury Chakin, TV's latest incarnation of NERO WOLFE, as Mahowny's single-minded bookie.

OWNING MAHOWNY is a subtle and unassuming, but profound, morality tale about the power of sin. When Mahowny gets caught, he and Belinda are chagrined by the problems they have created. Mahowny even regrets the fact that his activities have led to several people, including Belinda, being suspended from the bank, and his boss being forced into retirement. The credits inform viewers that Mahowny served some prison time for his crimes, eventually married Belinda, who stuck by him, and was "cured" of indulging his gambling addiction. Finally, the credits briefly recount how both the bank and the casino were punished for the bad business practices enabling Mahowny to embezzle all that money. Thus, the story contains some redemptive aspects that support the movie's moral worldview.

OWNING MAHOWNY contains some strong foul language, however. There is also a short scene where John Hurt's casino manager, Foss, sends a half-naked prostitute to the large suite that the casino has given to the high-rolling Mahowny. Mahowny refuses the offer. Mahowny's gambling addiction may have caused him to ignore his loving girlfriend, but he has no intentions of cheating on her with another woman. Ironically, Mahowny's spartan lifestyle pleases Foss extremely, because it means that Foss doesn't have to give away too many costly perks to Mahowny in order to get Mahowny to spend his embezzled millions.

There's also an easy grace portrayed in this movie. Despite the end credits, all the guilty parties seem to get off too easily for their crimes and sins.

Hence, because of its adult content and subject matter, MOVIEGUIDEĀ® must strongly caution viewers, including adults, about seeing this movie. If, however, you do go see OWNING MAHOWNY, stay through the credits: there's a short visual joke about banks and casinos that's absolutely precious, as well as insightful.

Please address your comments to:

Michael Barker, Tom Bernard & Marcie Bloom

Co-Presidents

Sony Pictures Classics

550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor

New York, NY 10022

Phone: (212) 833-8833

Web Page: www.spe.sony.com

In Brief: