Update: A theatrical release has been set for September 10, 2021 by Focus Features.
Following up one of his career peaks with his haunting, soul-searching existential drama First Reformed, Paul Schrader is back. His next film, The Card Counter, stars Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, and features a reteam with Willem Dafoe.
While Schrader and cast nearly completed the project before COVID-19 took the film industry and world by storm, the film is still hitting the market for potential buyers at the virtual Marché du Film, which means we have a first look.
As seen above, courtesy of photographer Heidi Hartwig, one can check out the first look at Isaac in the film. The actor also recently joined Ben Stiller’s next film London, a thriller based on a new short story from Jo Nesbo and scripted by Eric Roth.
“I was looking at the World Series of Poker. I said, There is a blankness there. That is the blankest world. They’re just sitting there ten, 12 hours a day, running numbers through their heads just like slot players are,” Schrader said earlier this year regarding the idea of the film. “It’s a way to not exist and pretend you are existing. So what kind of person would choose that kind of occupation to not exist if he was under guilt? Then I said, Of course. There’s only one guilt sufficient in our times. It’s Abu Ghraib. My guy was one of the torturers. And not only one of them, he loved it. He was enjoying it, and he went to jail for eight years.”
Below, check out the new synopsis for the film executive produced by Martin Scorsese:
Tell (Isaac) just wants to play cards. His spartan existence on the casino trail is shattered when he is approached by Cirk (Sheridan), a vulnerable and angry young man seeking help to execute his plan for revenge on a military colonel (Dafoe). Tell sees a chance at redemption through his relationship with Cirk. Gaining backing from mysterious gambling financier La Linda (Haddish), Tell takes Cirk with him on the road, going from casino to casino until the unlikely trio set their sights on winning a World Series of poker tournament. But keeping Cirk on the straight-and-narrow proves impossible, dragging Tell back into the darkness of his past.
Deadline reports that film will resume production this July, which we imagine could mean a 2021 festival debut–or perhaps earlier, since 90% of the film is already edited. Schrader and Isaac also took part in a one-hour discussion on the film, which can be viewed here or by clicking below.