Vincentas is a paramedic in a bleak industrial port on Lithuania’s Baltic coast. An award-winning employee, he is good at his job but years of struggle have left him inured to life, death and the suffering of others. Hounded by loan sharks as his gambling debts mount, Vincentas hits on a desperate and macabre scheme: a secret betting syndicate that gambles on the survival of patients. Soon the whole unit is on board, all but Ieva, the principled co-worker struggling to make ends meet for herself and her son. But as the syndicate starts to make serious money, and he falls for Ieva, Vincentas begins to lose his grip on the game.

Stylishly shot by Ignas Jonynas, and animated by a pulsing electronic score, The Gambler is an unflinching portrait of a world in which everyone gambles with their own – and each other’s – lives. As Vincentas, Vytautas Kaniusonis (Vanishing Waves – JDIFF 2013) impresses in a uniformly strong cast, while Oona Mekas (daughter of film-maker Jonas Mekas) is equally good as a desperate young mother struggling with her conscience.

Alistair Daniel
Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Winner, Special Jury Prize, Warsaw Film Festival