Gambling conjures up ideas of flashy glitz, the buzz of excitement and the hum of crowds. The popularization of poker brought brash, young Turks, like Daniel Negreanu and Gus Hansen, and wily veterans, such as Doyle Brunson, to our television screens. We watched them play and the combination of skill, boldness and luck made for compelling viewing.
The world shown us by Matt Gallagher is far less glamorous. He found himself unemployed during the recession and decided to try his hand at making a living in Toronto’s underground poker scene. He meets other players, Andre and Danny, and a game runner, Lawrence. They inhabit game rooms with fluorescent lighting in nondescript suburban plazas, spending the hours from 10 pm until morning playing.
The film is Gallagher’s journey as a grinder. His time in the poker world is intercut with developments in his personal life. His ambivalence about his career as a poker player informs the film. The tone muted and indifferent. This is a film for those with a special interest but it is unlikely to appeal to a wider audience.
Director: Matt Gallagher
Program: Canadian Spectrum
Friday, Apr 29, 9:45 pm, Isabel Bader Theatre
Saturday, May 7, 9:30 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Sunday, May 8, 6:30 pm, Fox Theatre