Hoffman is perfectly cast in this tense, gritty film, based on a true story. His Mahowny is a study in desperation and denial, a man completely in thrall to a compulsion that’s bound to destroy him. Both Hurt and Chaykin are fabulous as sleazy denizens of the betting life. And Driver pulls off the tricky role of a kind, accepting woman who, underneath all the secrets and lies, still sees some good in Dan. A small, independent film with an outsize impact, “Mahowny” is well worth owning.
Dan Mahowny (Hoffman) is a diligent, unassuming assistant bank manager in Toronto with a shocking secret: he’s also a hopeless gambling addict. In debt to his bookie Frank (Chaykin), he starts embezzling from his employer to feed his habit. Soon he’s making clandestine trips to Atlantic City, where casino manager Victor Foss (Hurt) welcomes him warmly. Meanwhile, back in Canada, Dan’s girlfriend Belinda (Driver) senses something is off. When she finally learns the truth, Dan’s already in too deep.