Combining auteur filmmaking Terence Malick with powerhouse performers Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman should, in theory, have resulted in cinematic fireworks. Instead, Knight of Cups is a damp squib, its arresting visuals an artistic smokescreen for a barely-there narrative that is unoriginal, insipid and downright alarming in its treatment of women.
Unravelling in the familiar, close quarters of a Victorian London conversion, the directorial debut of writer David Farr (Hanna, TV’s The Night Manager) aims for the claustrophobic chills of Rosemary’s Baby, but comes closer to the outlandish bunny boiler camp of Fatal Attraction.
Gambler Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is feeling the pressure of another losing streak when a chance meeting with charismatic poker player Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) seems to bring about a change of fortune. The pair set out on a cross-country journey, from Iowa to Louisiana, determined to win big, but Gerry’s capacity for self-destruction threatens to derail them at every turn.