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The Card Counter - What We Know So Far

More than three years have passed since legendary cinematic button-pusher Paul Schrader unleashed the holy beast known as "First Reformed" on the masses, and it's a safe bet many who saw that film are still trying to get over the trauma of it. That's hardly a surprise as Schrader (writer of "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull" and director of "Affliction" and "Auto Focus") has long had a reputation for keeping moviegoers on edge. "First Reformed" found Schrader in rarefied form, however, delivering an audacious little film as artfully ambitious and morally confounding as it was emotionally excruciating.

It was also one of the biggest critical successes of Schrader's infamously up-and-down directorial career (per Rotten Tomatoes), with many a cineaste hailing it as a welcome return to form. They were understandably eager then to know-how, or even if the man could top himself with his follow-up. We'll soon find out as said follow-up "The Card Counter" is nearing a theatrical debut. Here are a few things you should know about Paul Schrader's new movie before it hits theaters.

When will The Card Counter be released?

Schrader's name alone should get any true-blue movie lover hot to get their eyes on "The Card Counter." The good news is that you won't have to wait too much longer to do just that as the film is slated to hit theaters later this year. Even more so as "The Card Counter" was one of many films whose 2020 production endured delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, "The Card Counter" was forced to shut down production just five days prior to wrap when a supporting actor in the film tested positive for the virus (via Deadline). 

Luckily, Schrader and company didn't have to shut things down too long, returning to a COVID-safe set in June, and wrapping production a little over a month later (per Deadline). It seems post-production on the hotly-anticipated movie went more according to plan, as Focus Features has officially tabbed "The Card Counter" for a wide release on September 10, 2021.

Who is starring in The Card Counter?

If Paul Schrader's name isn't enough to pique your interest in "The Card Counter," it's a safe bet those of the film's cast will be because the director has lined up some serious on-screen talent for his "First Reformed" followup. Chief among that talent is Mr. Oscar Isaac, who's spent the past decade fronting indie gems and tentpole properties with equal impact. "The Card Counter" will mark Isaac's first time working with Schrader, and the pairing could not be more intriguing.

Isaac will be joined in the film by a pair of other notable Schrader first-timers in Tye Sheridan and Tiffany Haddish. Sheridan is no stranger to the indie set, of course, having appeared in lauded, low-budget features like "Joe" and "Mud" before breaking big in "X-Men: Apocalypse" (opposite Isaac), and Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One." As for Haddish, the famed funny lady will surely be looking to turn a few heads in one of her rare-ish dramatic roles, and we cannot wait to see what Schrader has in store for her. Rounding out the film's primary cast is Willem Dafoe, who's exceedingly well-steeped in Schrader's style, having worked with the director numerous times throughout his career.

What is The Card Counter About?

And the whens and whos of "The Card Counter" are now known, you might be asking yourself what Paul Schrader's latest morality play is all about. Seems Schrader has indeed spun another morally complex narrative for the film. Part road movie, part gambling drama, and part revenge/redemption thriller, "The Card Counter" will reportedly (per Variety) find Isaac portraying William Tell, an ex-serviceman and professional gambler who takes a former Marine with anger issues (Sheridan) under his wing only to find the young man plotting vengeance against a mutual enemy (Dafoe).

With the help of a mysterious financier (Haddish), that plan sets the group on the path to Las Vegas with eyes on a big win at the World Series of Poker, even as the darkness dogging Sheridan's Marine threatens to undermine the endeavor. Fronting conflicted characters with dark pasts, obsessive needs for redemption, and likely a few shocking outbursts of violence, "The Card Counter" appears to come fitted with all the narrative bells and whistles one might expect from a Schrader film. And we could not be more excited by that prospect.