House of Games is David Mamet’s directorial debut and the start of a very solid career. The star of the film was his wife at the time and the trust shows. David Mamet is a critically acclaimed writer who has won numerous awards for all kinds of content and people started to call his stuff “Mamet speak” over time. That’s some high praise for the public to recognize your writing to be so distinctive. I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for more of his work, that’s for sure.
Margaret Ford is a successful and famous psychiatrist who has all kinds of patients. After talking to one who is a gambling fiend, she decides to help him out. He owes this guy named Mike, so Margaret pays him a visit and enters a dangerous world that isn’t kind to folks like her. Mike has her play as his partner in one of the most intense poker scenes I’ve ever seen. After that, she keeps going down the rabbit hole even though it’s putting her in horrible spots. It’s like she’s addicted to this new world, but it’s not ready for her.
Lindsay Crouse delivers a powerhouse performance as Margaret, who is an extremely smart character that gets involved with people who want to believe they are smarter than everyone. The dialogue is wicked sharp and enticing. House of Games has just the right amount of twists and just the right amount of characters to get involved with. Joe Mantegna plays Mike, who leads Margaret down this winding path of lies and theft. Mike is not a loveable guy, but you just can’t get enough of him. Gamblers and con men are such fascinating characters to watch on the screen, and when you pair them on the screen with a person who studies people for a living, you get some awesome back and forth. I highly suggest this classic from David Mamet.