Owning Mahowny - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Owning Mahowny Reviews

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½ October 5, 2016
Hoffman is amazing! He plays the hell out of this role. A storm of inner compulsion and scheming, rage at the core of this fascinating, surreptitious character. He masterfully conceals and conveys the high highs and low lows of the addicted gambler. He is like a car wreck, you want to but you just can't look away. One of my favorite movies.
March 22, 2015
The movie itself is average but Hoffman's Mahowny makes a dullard fascinating.
February 6, 2015
Directed by Richard Kwietniowski, (Love and Death on Long Island (1997)), this true life drama was based on the 1987 book Stung: The Incredible Obsession of Brian Molony by Gary Stephen Ross. Which told of one man's addiction and how he was lucky at first not to get caught, but it soon caught up with him. Which this film is ever so loosely based on that, it's well made despite being made on a shoestring. It begins in 1980, when Dan Mahowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a small time bank employee in Toronto is made Assistant Branch Manager of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. While his peers look upon him as a trusted man, in reality, Mahowny has a massive gambling addiction, and he owes money to bookie Frank Perlin (Maury Chaykin). Mahowny comes up with a plan, stealing from the bank under fake accounts to go to Atlantic City, where he's always greeted by casino boss Victor Foss (John Hurt), but this lifestyle alienates him from his wife Belinda (Minnie Driver). After an audit, it all starts to come out, and the Toronto police investigate further. It's a well made film, and you can't go wrong with Hoffman, as he plays the nerdish but conniving gambler. It's an old fashioned film where one man thinks he can get away with crime, but knowing he won't get away with it forever. The film plays on what we wish we could get away with if we could, but knowing we can't in reality.
December 20, 2014
at first it was heartbreaking to watch the unraveling of a man because of an addiction, but then the grandiosity of its scale is what the movie is really about.
December 18, 2014
Incredible Character Driven Insight..The Addiction To The (Winning) Thrill, Not The Money Itself Is What Casino's Love To Implant In You & Then Drain It For All It's Worth...No Matter What The Consequences. Sad But True.
½ October 15, 2014
Very interesting character as only PSH can deliver.
October 9, 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Minnie Driver give painfully depressing, but outstanding, performances in this gritty film based on a true story of a banking executive, responsible and reliable in every way...except for a debilitating gambling problem. Dan Mahowny (Hoffman) uses his clout and trust to manipulate the system to keep his addiction going. The movie is hard to watch as the situations are very tense. The performances and direction are superb, though, engaging the viewer in the first few minutes of the opening scene.
½ September 19, 2014
It may be very plain and simply told, by Owning Mahowney offers up a glimpse into the mid of a compulsive gambler, and how the man thinks, what his lifestyle is, and what his social status amounts to. In that sense, the movie is interesting, and Hoffman offers up a neat little performance.
½ June 30, 2014
A lot of movies have been made on the destructive power of all sorts of addictions, but few have matched the sheer desperation of the affliction quite like "Owning Mahowny". This sparse yet electrifying and haunting film is based on a true story, the largest one-man bank fraud case in Canadian history.

The screenplay by Maurice Charvet is based on the book "No Limit" by Gary Ross, and it smartly focuses solely on the devastating obsessive behavior of bank manager Dan Mahowny without all of the flash that you would find in a big Hollywood movie.

This is as real and painful as it gets, and at the center of it all is the mesmerizing and fearless performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It's an amazingly layered piece of work, and in many ways it's even better than his Oscar winning performance in "Capote". You notice the way Hoffman is rarely able to look anyone in the eye and the fact, as one character puts it, you never even really know what he gets out of gambling. As it's stated in the script, he only seems to want to win money in order to lose it again, and it's never a question of if he's going to get caught: only when. Frankly, it's quite miraculous that he's able to get away with this charade for as long as he does, many time brushing away the harshest suspicions with a mere sentence or two. It's a credit to Hoffman, who sells it.

"Owning Mahowny" is a powerhouse film that lingers with you long after it's over with one unforgettable lead performance. Thanks to Hoffman and a terrific script, an ordinary subject becomes something special.
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2014
-How would you rate the thrill you got from gambling on a scale of 1 to 100?
-Um... A hundred.
-What about the biggest thrill you've ever had outside of gambling?

Life can sometimes overcome fiction and its rules of probabilities as shown in the real-life-based film by Richard Kwietniowski about an unassuming bank employee whose areas of his personal life slowly begin to hit a new bottom when his ability to transfer funds in an out of the bank after a promotion and approving loans to non-existent clients meet his addiction: gambling. With a low-key execution, the story unfolds patiently, but with not the impact that could mirror the mathematical and even legal implications that this event suggests it had in real life. It also carries a strong message in the end, which is only suggested with the final dialogue quoted above, but not developed fully with that intensity of living at least five times less intensely outside the addiction. Nevertheless, the grand Seymour Hoffman knows how to stay with his troubled character, and John Hurt is terrific as the badass and calculating bastard casino manager.

½ March 1, 2014
Watching this since the recent sudden passing of Hoffman from a drug overdose - the tale of a man battling with a secret addiction that ultimately leads to his downfall - creates a resonance with real life that is hard to shift. Its a great drama with a fantastic controlled central performance from Hoffman, backed up by some great turns by Hurt (almost physically unrecognisable as slimey Casino boss) and even Minnie Driver.
February 17, 2014
Finally a film that deals with the REAL, catastrophic aspects of gambling addiction. Thank you Phillip Seymour Hoffman for portraying perfectly (nothing new) this tunnel vision role.
And the subtexts of the greed of Zoss played by John Hurt, Casino owners and the gambling industry in general were also brilliantly portrayed..
I just loved every aspect of this film from those who were really rooting for him (his "personal" valet who was fired when thought he was lost to Vegas, rehired when he reappeared, and finally fired again when Voss knew Mahowny's time was up

I appreciated also the men in the control tower watching him and wanting him so badly to won.
. Unfortunately, his addiction was so palpable, that he couldn't even take one instant to appreciate those on his side. Only in the end did he realize his true comrades and appreciate his lovely girlfriend played by Minnie Driver.
There was something viscerally redemptive about this film. And I can't quite put my finger on it, but it might be that we have seen the stereotypical gambling addict as a "happy go unlucky", when inside he/she is dying in a vault of obsessive compulsion.. Nothing to smile about unless you happen to be John Hurt (marvelous) or the Casino owners.
I shall keep this film on my DVR until "I delete". There will always be room for this finely honed film.
½ February 7, 2014
Owning Mahowny - written by Maurice Chauvet and directed by Richard Kwietniowski. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Dan Mahowny, John Hurt and Minnie Driver. It is based on a real story set in early 80s - based on the book 'Stung' by Gary Ross (1987).

Dan Mahowny (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is helper and recently promoted to be an assistant branch-manager of the Bank. Mahowny's is an addictive gambler - he has been playing with large sum of the money to subsidize his gambling habits. He is a frequent flier to a Casino in Atlantic City. The manager (John Hurt) of the Casino is a greedy person who should do everything to please Mahowny by offering him lavish stay, courteous staff. Mahowny has been backing the clients with fishy records. Mahowny's girlfriend (who is also a clerk at the bank) is fed-up about his obsession with gambling and calls it his 'gambling problems' - Mahowny doesn't accept believe in it he refers to it rather 'financial problems'.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is gone from our world - he was one of my top-favorite actors around. I had always appreciated his acting skills, he was a gifted man with huge capacity to pull the audience towards himself. Hoffman's death has done huge loss to the Hollywood like a termite biting slowly on wood chunks.

In Owning Mahowny, Hoffman plays the role solidly and dedicatedly. Some should not regard it huge glamour and glitz that displays abstract life at the Casino (like Martin Scorsese' Casino) - but generally speaking Hoffman has actually brought in focus a habit of a gambler whose inner-peace is lost. Too many movies lay their focus on glamourizing the Casino life and charm of the so-called witty gamblers - Hoffman has indeed cut open the gambler to let us see what they actually go through.
Mahowny received six years sentence for fraud. He never bet again after what he went through. In Atlantic City the occasion became known as 'Dan Mahowny Day'.

NOTE: I have seen gamblers - they are considered untouchable souls of the society. There was this illiterate but addictive gambler in my neighborhood - once while at his routine, it was notified to him that his infant daughter was ill and need to be taken to the hospital. He conveyed his message to his wife that he should be home soon - he was still gambling and the news arrived to him that his daughter had died, even after listening to this he kept playing. The messenger told the news to the owner of tea-hotel where he was playing (the owner is my neighborhood and a friend - he'd told me whole story) - this owner after being raged by his miserable attitude, threw him out of the hotel. So, I could entirely correlate this bad habit of gambling with that of Dan Mahowny - only in case of Mahowny, who did not consider it 'gambling problem'.
February 6, 2014
A small movie with a great big performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who approaches the role with the perfect amount of composure and intensity. The framing scenes of Mahowny's marriage, arguably the heart of the film, allow for some finely understated acting from both Hoffman and Minnie Driver. It may lack "flash and glamour", but if that's what you're looking for then watch Martin Scorsese's Casino.
February 3, 2014
Dan Mahowny knows he's good at his job, just not at his life. "Owning Mahowny" is a fascinating fact-based portrait of gambling addict Dan Mahowny, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is a Canadian bank manager who financed his addiction in the early 1980s through embezzlement. He created phantom loan accounts and juggled figures, keeping his scam alive for two years -- and to the tune of $10 million. What transcends and carries this true story of the largest bank fraud case in Canadian history is the phenomenal central performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The main focus of the screenplay is Mahowny's obsession and compulsion and its devastating effects professionally and personally. Mahowny is emotionally sealed off, a man with no interests and no pleasures, a kind of dead soul who needs to gamble to feel truly alive. "Mahowny" is not a feel-good story about one man's ability to overcome addiction. Instead, it illustrates a deepening spiral of compulsive behavior, his withdrawal from society, and the unyielding power of denial. The story has some tense moments, but ultimately it's Hoffman's ability to reveal to us that beneath his all consuming addiction lies a decent, desperate soul.
½ February 3, 2014
Fascinating portrait of a basically decent man whose gambling addiction took control of his life, leading him into bank fraud, exceedingly well acted by Philip Seymour Hoffman with Minnie Driver as the woman who stands behind him through thick and thin.
½ November 30, 2013
Superb portrayal of a compulsive gambler--A tour de force!!
October 22, 2013
Amazing performance by Hoffman. It's a powerful film, displaying a damn good representation of the degenerate gambler. Unlike most flms about casinos/gambling, this one isn't as flashy and fast paced; it carries it's weight with sheer drama, a solid script and genuine acting. It's a true story too - a Canadian one! 8/10
½ June 4, 2013
This isn't as remarkable as a lot of his later work, but this movie is a solid early example of what a great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is. I'm not going to write a long review, since the movie mostly boils down to Hoffman's performance. The film is based on a true story: Dan Mahowny, a milquetoast loan officer at a bank in 1980s Toronto, seems utterly unremarkable, except for his secret life: he is a gambling addict of epic proportions, using his expertise with numbers and his access to bank funds to win astonishing amounts of money in every conceivable form of gambling, and to lose even more. Minnie Driver has one of her most unglamorous roles ever as Mahowny's dowdy, concerned girlfriend, and John Hurt is a lot of fun to watch as a predatory casino owner who is fascinated by Mahowny. The movie follows Mahowny's rise and fall in a straight arc, and while there aren't many twists or flourishes to the storytelling, it's definitely worth watching the movie for Hoffman's remarkably focused, tunnel-visioned performance.
May 12, 2013
One of the few addiction movies that doesn't feel showy or like Oscar bait. Philip Seymour Hoffman says more in his moments of silence than most actors do in extended monologues.
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