Watch our exclusive interview with director Henry Butsh here
A collaborator on Terrence Malick’s recent films, Henry Butash’s walky-talky takes its cues from Malick, Anton Chekhov and Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, in what is nonetheless a highly original debut feature with admirably nuanced performances from Jessica Hecht and Mike Faist. Jane, middle-aged and unforthcoming, is frustrated by a marriage that has become numbingly routine. She spreads her wings by heading off to Atlantic City - that decaying, ocean-facing gambling mecca where hopes are nurtured and dreams are usually dashed - for a spell on her own without letting anyone know where she’s gone. Here she meets young gambler Arthur, who is rapidly losing all the money he hoped would bring him salvation.
In a precisely choreographed ballet of body language (Jane initially notices the movements of Arthur’s hands at the roulette table) these two lost souls, who can’t talk to the ones they know or love about their problems, discover a mutual attraction and a tentative relationship emerges at just the right moment for both of them. Of course, the film references Louis Malle’s 1980 classic Atlantic City, but whereas Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon in that film play out their destinies against the teeming summer season, Butash strands his characters amidst the melancholy of the deserted winter season, where the famous boardwalk is windswept and empty. The striking, Malick-inflected, cinematography alternates shots of the fancy casinos with those of the decaying cityscape, and music is used to great effect.
‘The quiet sophisticated strength of the opening sequence of Henry Butash’s debut film The Atlantic City Story will grab the attention of any mature, attentive viewer and the viewer is likely to be hooked until the film ends. ’ - Jugu Abraham,Movies that make you think.
‘Powered by two beautiful performances at its center… The dependable and underrated Jessica Hecht shows great promise again. Her turn as Jane Carver… is a thing to behold. Mike Faist… is incredible as the young gambling addict’ - Shikhar Verma, High on Films.
‘By limiting the narrative and thematic scope, never looking beyond the lives of these two fully-formed characters, Butash’s film is a compact marvel.’ - Christian Gallichio, The Film Stage.