The Danish-Serbian actor Dejan Čukić is still best remembered for the cult crime comedy “In China They Eat Dogs”, and until watching this darkly humorous combination of thriller and drama, I had forgotten that the man even existed. In “Fantasten” or “All In” Čukić was in outstanding form and deservedly won the award for Danish actor of the year for the role of a car dealer in serious gambling problems. I’ve been waiting for a few years for this film to appear somewhere and the wait was worth it because “All In” is another one of those completely unexpected Danish surprises, one of those unheralded films about a guy in his fifties whose life has completely gotten out of control.
And Claus (Čukić) is aware that he has no one else to blame but himself, and it is immediately clear to us that he is one of those compulsive gamblers who gambles on everything or nothing. He is constantly late for work, where he plays poker on his laptop, and spends all days at the casino playing roulette or at private card sessions for high stakes. When he has no money, he borrows money from Chinese moneylenders, and the situation will further spiral out of control when one day his 19-year-old son Silas appears at his door. It’s obvious that Claus hasn’t seen his son for a long time, and because of his gambling habits, it’s not like he’s worried much about what’s going on with Silas.
However, Silas was left by his girlfriend and has nowhere else to go, and apart from offering him temporary accommodation, the old man will also introduce him to the world of gambling. And it will look fun at first because the first trip to the casino will result in winnings and wild time, but problems will arise when Silas runs into dangerous guys who will cheat him for a huge amount of money, and Claus will be given a certain deadline to pay back his debts. And in that situation, everything starts to go to hell, and Claus’s life will turn into a true spiral of horrors and complete disasters. The situation will go from bad to worse, and every attempt to get out will result in even deeper plunging into problems and even greater chaos and will escalate to the end in a shocking and insane finale.
“All In” was a film with an exceptional pace and rhythm that does not stop practically from the first second, and it is incredible what Claus will manage to get himself into until the end. Of course, the extremely cheerful Čukić is the main asset of this film and it is a real pleasure to watch this great actor literally tearing up in a role that seems to have been written for him. Although Claus is aware that he and everything around him is completely out of control, this pathological gambler simply cannot stop and his whole life is a gamble for him. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, he will get himself into an even worse and more hopeless situation, and all the while Claus is trying to outwardly give the impression of a man who has everything under control, as if everything is still in his hands, even though it is obvious that he the ground underfoot slipped away. It’s a great film about the complete loss of control over life, but also when a man pulls someone else down with him because of his vices.