Atlantic City the movie: A cinema classic
Atlantic City is a 1980 classic film directed by Louis Malle, starring Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon. The movie is set in the titular city, a faded seaside resort town that has definitely seen better days but works perfectly for the general ambience here. Atlantic City was not only well-received by critics but also earned five Academy Award nominations, including the Oscar for Best Picture. From its fantastic all-star cast, Online Casino Slots feel and dramatic twists and turns, this 1980 classic is entitled to its glowing review on Rotten Tomatoes for more than one reason.
Taking a closer look
The movie’s plot revolves around the character of Lou Pascal, played by Burt Lancaster. Lou is a small-time gangster who works as a resort numbers runner in Atlantic City. Lou’s life drastically turns when he meets Sally Matthews, played by legend Susan Sarandon, who was nominated for an Oscar in the best actress category for this role. Sally is a young waitress and aspiring games dealer who dreams of leaving Atlantic City for a brighter and more fulfilled life. When her estranged drug dealer husband, Dave, returns with her pregnant sister and gets involved in a heist gone wrong, Lou is caught up in a dangerous situation that puts his and Sally’s lives at risk.
Dave meets Lou, who now runs a low-key numbers game in a deprived area of the city and lives in Sally’s apartment complex. Lou also looks after Grace (whose gangster husband he once worked for), an ageing beauty queen who appears to be bedridden and who constantly berates and demeans him. As Lou sells the first batch of cocaine to Alfie, who is conducting an unauthorised poker game in a hotel room, Dave is ambushed and killed by the mobsters from whom he took the cocaine (having persuaded Lou to sell it). The remaining supply belongs to Lou, who continues to sell it to Sally – for whom he has long yearned. One day, after a sexual encounter with Lou, Sally returns to her apartment to find it in ruins. Dave’s killers have been looking for her, and beat her to find out whether she has any narcotics. Lou regrets not being able to protect her, not quite as adept as he claims, as Grace has already made clear.
Louis Malle’s genius in directing is seen in the movie’s strong representation of the atmosphere and mood of the city, all while seamlessly incorporating the characters’ storyline. This movie portrays Atlantic City as a place that can be described as washed-up in many ways, where glamour and excitement belong to the past and have now been replaced by decay and desperation. Malle showcases the city’s past and faded glory, from the empty boardwalk to the run-down venues and seedy bars.
Another vital aspect is the performance of the two leads, who are experts in their craft. While Burt Lancaster delivers a nuanced and understated performance as Lou Pascal, he also effortlessly portrays a man past his prime who is desperately still clinging to his former glory. Unsurprisingly, Susan Sarandon is equally impressive as Sally Matthews, a young woman with big dreams drawn into a dangerous world she doesn’t understand. The whole movie is made better by the chemistry between the stars, which can only be described as palpable, and their relationship forms the emotional aspect. Atlantic City perfectly conveys many contradictory feelings, from fear to sadness to shock and joy.
The screenplay, written by John Guare, is also noteworthy. The sharp and witty dialogue perfectly balances the movie’s many plotlines and characters naturally and organically. The script also explores themes of ageing, regret and the search for meaning in a world and city that can be harsh and unforgiving. Overall, the movie Atlantic City is a well-crafted and engaging watch that showcases the range and talents of its cast and crew. While it may not be as well-known as some of the other films of the era, it is a movie that deserves to be recognised as an instant classic, not only for its superb acting but for its many written and cinematic attributes.
Atlantic City continues to be a success: it was one of the 25 films that the Library of Congress added to the United States National Film Registry in 2003, after determining that it was “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and should be preserved. The film’s international acclaim is still ongoing and has been since the 1980s. After receiving many nominations from around the world, including in France, Atlantic City has been and continues to be viewed as an unmissable dramatic work.
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