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Staunch Test DEBATE? Or Staunch Test PASS? Our reviewers see it differently! What do you think?

Staunch Test Debate: Ex-military interrogator and mystery gambler William Tell is haunted by his past life. He attempts redemption with an ex-colleague’s son, who is hell bent on revenge.

An excellent film that keeps you questioning the motives of the protagonist . An interesting take, as he starts to understand his past misdemeanours (for which he has served time), how he rationalises his past actions, and why he lives the way he does now. The Card Counter is a #Staunch Test Debate as the film shows female soldiers forced to sexually humiliate male Afghani prisoners (something we’ve not seen before), under orders and against their own wishes, which they find traumatic and dehumanising.

Tammy Thornton


Staunch Test Pass: William Tell (Oscar Isaac) is a gambler and former serviceman who used to serve in a military prison. He gambles almost everyday in order to forget his past until he is approached by Cirk (Tye Sheridan), a young man who is seeking revenge on Gordo (Willem Dafoe), a retired military major. William refuses to help Cirk but offers him to take him along as he gambles so he can win enough money to help him start a new life and clear his debts. 

Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter mainly focuses on William’s sense of guilt after serving time in Abu Ghraib prison. He has recurring nightmares about his stint there and he sees a chance to redeem himself by keeping Cirk away from a violent life.

William’s attempts of helping Cirk don’t go according to plan. The young man is killed by Gordo after sneaking into his house to kill him himself without William’s help. Upon discovering that, William is unsettled and enraged, he gets to Gordo’s house and kills him off-screen using the same torture practices that they both used to perform on military prisoners. After all his attempts of staying away from violence, William couldn’t restrain himself from using it in order to do justice.

Most of the violence of this movie is not directly shown on screen. When Cirk tells William about his family he describes his father as a violently abusive man especially towards his mother but that is never shown on screen.

La Linda (Tiffany Haddish) is the only female character, she’s an acquaintance from the gambling world and she starts a relationship with William later in the movie. She’s never mistreated by anyone and William sees her as a way to go back to a normal life but that’s all, her character could have been given more time and introspection.

The Card Counter has not many thrills but it deals with a difficult topic without glamorising violence, it is a #StaunchTestPass.

Simona Columbano

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