VIFF 2014: The Gambler's dark comedy goes matte black

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      The Gambler (Lithuania/Latvia)  

      Dark comedy goes matte black in this tale of thick-skinned paramedics who start a betting pool based on the fate of their “clients”.

      How the game works and whether this sets up a conflict of interest for them, as (hard-drinking) professionals, is never made entirely clear. But the gang’s natural leader (the charismatically Clooney-like Vytautas Kaniusonis) makes the story both amusing and compelling. Filmmaker Ignas Jonynas attaches offbeat imagery to even more unexpected music, and this approach is exciting until our tale flies off the rails in the final quarter. The lead character’s gentle love interest is played by Oona Mekas, daughter of American underground-film pioneer Jonas Mekas.

      Vancity, October 5 (9:15 p.m.) and 10 (9:15 p.m.); SFU, October 7 (9 p.m.)