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Owning Mahowny

Philip Seymour Hoffman , Minnie Driver , Richard Kwietniowski  |  PG |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver, John Hurt
  • Directors: Richard Kwietniowski
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Alliance
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000C89HE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,439 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Portrait of a Gambler Straddling Two Worlds October 17, 2003
Dan Mahowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a capable upwardly mobile assistant bank manager by day and a hard-core gambling addict every other hour of his life. He'll place bets on anything, even teams he's never heard of in sports he doesn't know. When his debts to a local bookie threaten to shut down his credit line, Dan turns to the obvious source of funds: the bank. He forges business loan applications, borrows on his clients' credit lines, and strings it along by covering the activity on those accounts with bearer bonds drawn on false accounts. This shell game provides Dan with enough cash to win and lose very high stakes at casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. But it's only a matter of time before phantom clients, overdrawn accounts, and missing money catch up with him.
"Owning Mahowny" is based on a book called "No Limit" (or alternatively, "Stung") written by Gary Ross about Canada's notorious gambling man, Brian Molony. Brian Molony served 6 years in prison for fraud after he used his position as assistant manager in a Toronto bank to defraud the bank of $10 million in order to fund his gambling addiction, between 1980 and 1982. This true story has been admirably adapted for the screen. The details of Mahowny's financial slight-of-hand could easily bog the narrative down. But the film concentrates on creating a compelling character study of a smart man who stupidly and compulsively gambles for its own sake without even regard for winning or losing. Director Richard Kwietniowski effectively uses images to contrast the subcultures of the bank and the casino and to make them seem like self-contained worlds which both revolve around money, in spite of their considerable differences.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sad and haunting April 11, 2004
"Some folks believe that everyone has a public life, a private life and a secret life."
These are the opening words of "Owning Mahowny," a fascinating real-life tale of a compulsive gambler whose life falls to pieces when he begins embezzling funds from the bank where he works in order to feed his obsession. Dan Mahowny's "secret life" became public in the early 1980's when he was finally arrested and convicted on charges of bank theft. Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has made a career out of playing sad sack, tormented souls, gives one of his richest performances to date as Mahowny, a mild-mannered man caught in the grip of that compulsive sickness known as gambling addiction. Minnie Driver plays his devoted girlfriend who loves Dan dearly but who cannot bear to stand by and watch helplessly as he slowly but inexorably destroys his life.
If the film were only about Mahowny's gambling problem, it would be no different from countless TV movies made on the same subject. What sets this film apart is the way in which writer Maurice Chauvet (working off the original novel by Gary Stephen Ross) and director Richard Kwietniowski make the background of the story as compelling as the foreground. The astute, observant script focuses as much on the ins and outs of the casino and gambling worlds as it does on the personal travails of its main character. Particularly intriguing is the way in which high rollers are followed and coddled by the casino owners using both high tech equipment like cameras and monitors as well as plain old-fashioned flattery, obsequiousness and deceit.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Owning "Owning Mahowny"? June 23, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I rent Owning Mahowny about a year ago and still often find myself thinking about it. I do not rent or see lots of movies anymore, largely due to the flashy, tabloid-fodder being churned out by Hollywood studios these days (curiously, who are all strangely confused why box office receipts keep dropping year-after-year).

I very much like Owning Mahowny, and will be buying a copy. I have a bias towards factual, documentary-style accounts which is part of the reason I like it. But it carries a sober (if unintentional) message to it. I agree with the reviewer who said this should be required viewing before any trip to Vegas. Maybe for stock and options traders too.

The setting of the early 80's is quite convincing, and I found it nostalgic to see the hairstyles, the cars, even the CDN $50 and $100 bills being counted in the opening credits. The character Dan Mahowny is indeed an "unexciting guy" who speaks in a monotone...that's part of the character, as Philip Seymour Hoffman faithfully reproduced after speaking for hours with the real Brian Molony, whose name was changed slightly for the movie's title owing to privacy concerns. Therein lies much of the movie's appeal. This is truly an average guy who did something stunning. Combine this with the movie's matter-of-factual attention to small details, and you suddenly feel like you're there, in 1981, watching this man implode before your very eyes.

If you prefer an Angelina Jolie bad girl, or Uma Thurman dressed up in a yellow suit with a sword, or Will Smith punching-out an alien from the cockpit of an F-16, you're in luck. Hollywood has made all of those movies, and many, many more just like them. Some gratuitous Hollywood production values can be fun, but the original, riveting story of Owning Mahowny was an entertaining and welcome change for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I never knew about Mahony.
This was a very interesting story and I did enjoy the movie. The fact that it's true makes it even more interesting. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Linda Jenkins
3.0 out of 5 stars Ho-Hum
I love PSH so much that I'm going back and watching all his old movies, but can't find anything to get excited about in this one. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Cleftonefan
5.0 out of 5 stars Philip Seymour Hoffman will be missed
He is one of the most watchable actors. This movie is a testament to that. I love LOVE this film.
Published 2 months ago by Me
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this from Amazon
This product is great, but buy it from someone other than Amazon. Customer service is terrible and refuses to provide any help whatsoever if anything goes wrong. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Paul C Vigil
5.0 out of 5 stars One heck of an experience for some one
I love the story but truly wish that I could have been their to pull my friend MAHOWNY away when he broke the table. The look on the Casino GM was totally priceless
Published 5 months ago by Renee Christian-Cofield
5.0 out of 5 stars GAMBLING RULES!!!
Owning Mahowny is a great movie about gambling and addiction. It makes me want to go to the casino and live his kind of life.
Great performances and outstanding story. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Grosse Pointe Vampire
1.0 out of 5 stars Was never able to watch!
I have heard the movie is great but I have not been able to watch it. This DVD I bought is the European version and wont play on my DVD player. Ugh. Frustrated
Published 11 months ago by shannon wilcoxon
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Auditing students
I teach auditing students in an MBA program, and this is a great movie to recommend to them. Auditors need to think in terms of the motivation to steal funds, the opportunity to... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this movie
This film is a tale of someone with a gambling problem. It was a sad state for Philip Seymour Hoffman's character in the movie but made for great theater. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Name
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic.
Philip Seymour Hoffman at his Oscar-caliber best. This film is destined to be a classic. I will never look at gambling addiction again in the same way.
Published 17 months ago by Dan H.
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