Redemption is the long game in Paul Schrader’s the Card Counter. Told with Schrader’s trademark cinematic intensity, the revenge thriller tells the story of an ex-military interrogator turned gambler haunted by the ghosts of his past decisions and features riveting performances from stars such as Oscar Isaac.
The story is a crime drama which emphasizes the feeling of guilt and trauma. It strongly highlights human conscience and revolves around a former military interrogator haunted by his past who is addicted to gambling. However, through another man’s quest for his personal revenge, he finds his own path to redemption.
Is it based on truth
Accroding to Exycasinos gambling experts, it can be said that it is not based on a true story. The movie has been developed by an original concept which was proposed by Paul Schrader who was also responsible for screenplay. Schrader was intrigued by gamblers and visit casinos on a daily basis. In his opinion, the activity is like an addiction and converts its users into zombies. He was interested in knowing what series of events, one had to go through, to opt such a unique lifestyle. These contemplating thoughts led him to create a complex backstory which we see in the card counter, that was heavily influenced by the real world elements, although not based on them entirely.
Real World Influences
Perhaps one of the most profound influences from the real world, was the connection of the main character with Abu Ghraib prison, which was opened in 1950s, famous for the inhumane treatment of its prisoners by forcing them to live in extreme and harsh conditions, not suitable for humans. It was used by Saddam Hussein and then for US political prisoners until it went out of order in the last few years. In context to the movie, William is trained in techniques of torture by Major John Gordo at this same prison, featuring quite disturbing forms of torture in the act.
Although the character, William Tell wasn’t inspired by any real world figures, Schrader revealed that he closely inspected the life of Charles Graner while researching for the film. A former member of the US army, Graner was convicted on the charges of prisoner abuse during his posting in this prison.
All in all, although “The card counter”, features a detailed approach on its storyline that often can be confused by the audience into believing that it is a real life story, ultimately, the movie is a fictional story that was merely inspired by series of past events that went down in human history, that ended up intriguing Schrader. It is an extremely well detailed character study that uses gambling as a metaphor for a man who committed heinous acts that are subject to feeling remorse. The man’s journey to find peace and redemption makes the movie all the more compelling for larger audiences giving a fresh narrative which is emotionally resonant, while the main character’s past is used as a metaphor to reflect the dark corners of our society.