How can you make a living as gambler? Riding that fine line between criminal and celebrity. Is it pure luck? Do you have to have an edge? How much of it is a numbers game?
In the pseudo-comedy “Lay the Favorite”, Rebecca Hall stars as Beth, a free-spirit who moves to Las Vegas to find a job as a cocktail waitress. She has no dreams of breaking into show business, she just wants to start over. She meets Dink (Bruce Willis), a career gambler who offers her a job as a money courier.
Dink likes Beth and especially her loyalty and trust worthiness in a cutthroat profession.
Their relationship angers Dink’s trophy wife Tulip (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and it isn’t until Beth meets Jeremy (Joshua Jackson) that Tulip cools her jets.
The movie follows Beth’s career in the world of gambling as she works for Dink and then for his rival Rosie (Vince Vaughn) who gets her into a crapload of trouble.
Beth’s story isn’t all that interesting and making it a comedy really doesn’t help much. I think the producers wanted this movie to be like “Pretty Woman” some what because Hall’s performance reminded some of Julia Roberts. But it just never gels.
There is a ton of talent here and director Stephen Frears just got off the critically-acclaimed hit “The Queen”.
There is a major problem with the flow of the story, which parts to tell, how to keep the core characters together, gambling as an addiction, the ramifications and how and if Beth ever got out of the business.
The only real saving grace of the film is the really engaging performance from Rebecca Hall. Her free spirit character is brilliant and I really wish it was in a better film. Bruce Willis is also kind of fun in some ways. Zeta-Jones and Jackson are completely wasted.
The movie is loosely based on the true story of Beth Raymer and how she got mixed up in gambling and turned into a journalist. It sounds like a great premise for a movie but it is like the film forgot it’s third act. The movie is only 94 minutes so another 20 minute third act could have wrapped up Beth’s journey better.
3 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer