Casino (Movie Review)


Unlike seedy backroom gambling parlors, casinos are a place where people go to eat, see live shows (or sometimes closed-circuit broadcasts) and try their luck at games of chance. They are designed to be a fun and relaxing experience for people of all walks of life. But the truth is that casinos are very competitive businesses. They must compete with each other, non-gambling hotels and resorts, on-line gaming and private gambling. Moreover, they must attract highly skilled workers in order to operate. This is why casinos are often seen as having a positive impact on local unemployment.

In Casino, as in his other films of the era (Raging Bull and Goodfellas), Scorsese creates a liminal space in which the roughest edges of wise-guy criminality meet the sterile blandness of big business. This is not a nostalgic piece, but rather a film that laments the demise of an old way of life and expresses skepticism about what might replace it.

The cast is top-notch, but it’s Sharon Stone who really carries the movie. Her performance is a star-making turn, and she is sexy, sensual and deceptively vicious. Her scene with Nicky at the Tangiers, where she taunts him about his lies, is one of the best-built scumbag plotlines in any film ever made. But her final act, in which she betrays Ace for a fat paycheck, is just as impressive. It reveals how far she will go to maintain her sense of superiority.