Atlantic City (1980)
Rent Atlantic City on Amazon Video
Written by: John Guare
Directed by: Louis Malle
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Susan Sarandon, Kate Reid, Robert Goulet
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
A longtime low level mobster falls for a casino employee, selling drugs with her boyfriend to impress her.
A character study to be sure, avoiding the gun fights and car chases typical of gangster movies, this is an old man trying to live a dream in his twilight years. Great character development, but I couldn't help but hope for a bit more. This is about the gopher, not the top dog It's so laid back, you almost miss the story.
Lou (Burt Lancaster) is an aging gopher that finally gets to play at being a gangster. We don't know Lou's background, but he's living in a cheap apartment and running numbers. Obviously, he was nowhere close to becoming a capo.
He's nice, patient with an elderly lady he cares for in the building, and he's lonely, pining over his neighbor Sally (Susan Sarandon). When Sally's ex-husband comes around, she wants to run him off but Dave has other plans.
Dave runs into Lou by chance and they agree to sell the cocaine Dave stole. At first I wondered why Lou was taking the risk, but he's angling for an in with Sally. That's exactly what happens. Lou gets to throw around money like never before and impress her. He's never made it and wasn't going to, but this allows him the chance to live the big life, albeit temporarily. He's never been successful. He's not over the hill, he's a never was.
He's chasing a dream at the end of his life, and he knows it's temporary. Gangster movies are full of violence and big egos. This bucks that trend, focusing on the low level guy instead of the godfather. This plays against the city, where the old buildings are being torn down for the new casinos.