Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver, John Hurt, Maury Chaykin
Director: Richard Kwietniowski
Writer: Maurice Chauvet
Rated: M low level coarse language, adult themes
Running Time: 105 Minutes
The True Story Of A Mild Mannered Banker And His Magnificent Obsession
Polite, mild-mannered Dan Mahowny is an assistant bank manager with a head for numbers, a knack for making decisions, and a devastating appetite for gambling. Dan Mahowny is the unlikely hero who takes on two of the financial institutions everyone loves to hate, the bank and the casino, and, for a brief while, he wins.
'Owning Mahowny' is a biographical account of obsession. Dan Mahowny was on a gambling addiction rollercoaster in Toronto in the early 1980's. Once on this ride, it is a serious Catch22 situation - getting off is harder than staying on. Dan just couldn't stop gambling. What began as a semi-serious addiction, soon escalated into a crime. Philip Seymour Hoffman is Dan Mahowny and really conveys the reality that was Dan. He was a quiet, successful, unassuming man at work and was given a promotion, which included access to some very high profile and high level accounts. He was trusted and when he couldn't repay a local bookie (Maury Chaykin), he dipped his fingers into one of these accounts. Nobody questioned his transfer of funds, why would they? This continued to the point where eventually Dan had siphoned off $10.2 million from various accounts. Eventually Dan was caught after a bank audit finally found some discrepancies and police surveillance regarding the bookie implicated him.
This is a story of an addiction of the highest level. Dan is being questioned by a psychiatrist at the beginning and end of the movie and is asked to rate the level of excitement of his gambling on a scale of 0-100. He gives it 100 without having to even think about it. A life without gambling on the same scale? He answers 20. To Dan, gambling was the ultimate, but the most intriguing aspect of his personality is that he never changed. He was always the same Dan whether he was winning or losing. There was never a hint of what he was really thinking and to this end he is an enigma. He even has the casino bosses intrigued, including one in Atlantic City, played so shrewdly by John Hurt, that they are all fascinated by him. Dan is afforded all the perks that go with being a high-roller at a casino, sex, drugs, anything, yet all he wants is ribs, no sauce and a coke. He even has his girlfriend fooled (Minnie Driver in a bad wig).
'Owning Mahowny' is a slow movie and very drab - much like the character of Mahowny. It is perhaps overly long and drawn out or is meant to feel that way to try to convey some of the emotional aspects of Mahowny. It never really gets off the ground as far as gaining an insight into the mind of Mahowny - just endless depictions of him gambling and manipulating bank transactions and people, and for that reason is disappointing, but it is interesting enough given that it is based on a true story.
Rating : C+