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Review of Owning Mahowny

Posted by phduffy on 2003-10-19 22:34:55
Owning Mahowny is a sort of Canadian film staring Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the true life story of Brian Mahowny, a CIBC banker that stole millions from the bank to feed his banking habit. Wait. I think he was feeding his gambling habit. What the hell would a banking habit be?

I'm not quite sure how to classify this film. I'd say it's a subtle comedy. The humour isn't really funny haha, just funny. There's also a very real look at how gambling can destroy the life of a man. At one point in the movie one the owner of the casino in Atlantic City where Mahowny spends all of his money remarks "You know what the funny thing is? He only wants to win so that he can afford to lose". And it's true. Mahowny doesn't bet in order to win riches, he bets to bet.
He bets on everything, from the ponies, to the CFL to baseball to blackjack.

Hoffman does a great job of playing the consistently down on his luck Mahowny. As Mahowny he limps through life, giving everyone the impression that he's nothing special, and not worth noticing.

One of the problems with basing a story on real life is that the story of someone's life can't possible be told in two hours. As presented in the film, it's incomprehensible why Minnie Driver's character would stay with Mahowny, as he ingnores her at every turn. I'm sure that in real life Mahowny must have had some interesting points.

Anyways, I saw this because the Grey Bruce film society was presenting it, as it got good feedback from the Toronto film festival. It's out on video now, and if you're looking for something a little different, give it a shot.