The Card Player

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The Card Player
Italian theatrical poster
Directed by Dario Argento
Produced by Dario Argento
Claudio Argento
Written by Jay Benedict
Phoebe Scholfield
Screenplay by Dario Argento
Franco Ferrini
Story by Dario Argento
Franco Ferrini
Starring Stefania Rocca
Liam Cunningham
Silvio Muccino
Verra Gemma
Music by Claudio Simonetti
Cinematography Benoît Debie
Edited by Walter Fasano
Distributed by Medusa Produzione
Release date
2 January 2004
Running time
103 min.
Country Italy
Language Italian
Budget 2,000,000 (estimated)
Box office €2,713,882 (Italy; as of 18 January 2004)

The Card Player (Italian: Il cartaio) is a 2004 giallo film directed by Dario Argento. The film stars Stefania Rocca and Liam Cunningham and is Argento's second giallo feature of the decade (following Sleepless).

The film features a brief role by Fiore Argento, the director's eldest daughter. She had previously appeared in her father's films Phenomena and Demons.


The film centers around a serial killer known as "The Card Player", who is kidnapping young women in Rome. Using a webcam set-up, the killer challenges the police by forcing them to play hands of Internet poker. If the police lose, the kidnapped victim is tortured and murdered on-screen. When a British tourist is among the girls murdered, policeman John Brennan (Cunningham) is assigned the case and quickly teams up with Italian detective Anna Mari (Rocca). The duo have their work cut out for them when the Police Chief's daughter (Argento) becomes the killer's latest kidnapping victim.


Critical reception[edit]

The Card Player received a negative response from critics. The film has an approval rating of 20% on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on ten reviews.[1] The New York Times wrote, "The Card Player [...] doesn't break the unhappy streak of his [Argento's] later films. Though it's based on a promisingly outrageous premise [...] the film unfolds as a tired, thoroughly conventional police procedural that might as well be titled CSI: Roma."[2] AllMovie's review was unfavorable, writing, "The Card Player offers a fair amount of suspense and at least one memorable set piece, but for those even remotely familiar with Argento's canon, there's the feeling that it's all been done before – and handled with much more style and confidence."[3] Maitland McDonagh also gave the film a negative review, criticizing the screenplay for being "perfunctory" and for going "to so little trouble to hide the killer's identity that even inattentive viewers will know who's to blame long before the police figure it out."[4]


  1. ^ "Il Cartaoi (The Card Player) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Kehr, Dave (6 October 2004). "The Game Is Poker; The Stakes Are Lives". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "The Card Player - Review - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  4. ^ McDonagh, Maitland (2004). "The Card Player - Review - TV Guide". TV Guide. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 

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