Poker Face: She can tell

Riley Riley

Talk about confusing. There’s not one, but two shows called Poker Face doing the rounds at the moment.

One is a movie starring Australia’s Russell Crowe, the other a TV series with Natasha Lyonne from the hit series Orange is the New Black.

It’s also the name of a 2006 British game show where a lucky winner was guaranteed to walk away with £1 million.  

In fact, there have been quite a few productions under the same name over the years, as well as the 2008 hit by Lady Gaga.

While big Russ’s flick about a high stakes poker game is a box office bomb, Lyonne’s show looks like becoming a certified, gold-plated classic.

Created by Rian Johnson, it tells the story of Charlie Cale, a down on her luck poker player who has been blacklisted from playing at any casinos.

She is working as a cocktail waitress when co-worker and housekeeper and best friend Natalie (Dascha Polcano) turns up dead, the apparent victim of a murder-suicide.

Charlie figures out her death was not what it seems, because among other skills she’s got this uncanny ability to tell whether someone is lying or telling the truth.

It’s what makes her a such good poker player when the stakes are high.

Charlie discovers that Natalie was killed to keep her quiet after she came across some damaging information about one of the patrons.

In parallel, casino boss Sterling Frost Jr. (Adrien Brody) is pressuring her to compete in a rigged, high stakes poker game — designed to take down one of the high rollers.

He wants to show his father Sterling Frost Sr played by Ron Perlman that he is a man and can take care of business without any help.

Charlie discovers it was Frost who ordered her friend’s death and when things take a distinct turn for the worse, she is forced on the run.

Poker Face debuted on Australia Day with one season of 10 x 60-minute episodes so far which has earned critical acclaim.

Each episode finds Charlie working a different job in a different town where as chance has it a murder takes place.

It’s a tried and true format, but a good one with larger than life characters and and an intriguing string of whodunits.

Although trying to keep a low profile, Charlie just can’t help herself and becomes involved in the investigation.

Watch out for Big Bang’s Simon Hellberg (Howard Wolowitz) as the gun-toting FBI special agent Luca Clark. There’s no missing that nose.

The show sees a reunion of sorts, as Lyonne and Polcano were both in Orange is The New Black (2013) and Russian Doll (2019).

Chloë Sevigny (Ruby Ruin, Episode 4) also appeared in Russian Doll.

Meanwhile, Adrien Brody previously worked with director Johnson on The Brothers Bloom (2008).

Johnson is also known for Knives Out and Glass Onion, as well as Looper (2012) and for producing three episodes of the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad (2008).

Poker Face also sees a number of cameos from the likes of Ellen Barkin, Nick Nolte, Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg and Aussie actresss Danielle Macdonald from Sydney who moved to LA at the age of 18 to pursue her dream of becoming an actor.

Lyonne turns in a cracker of a performance as the hard-drinking, chain-smoking, wise-cracking Cale with her mop of frizzy hair, baseball cap and aviator sunglasses.

She’s trailer trash, from the wrong side of the tracks, but she’s got a heart of gold and you just can’t help but love her for it.

As the series progresses we encounter Sevigny is a washed-up rock star who’d kill for a hit, Lil Rel Howery is a barbecue king who off his brother after he goes vegan, Whale Oscar nominee Hong Chau as a spaced out trucker and Judith Light and S. Epatha Merkerson as Seventies radicals hiding out in an assisted-living community.

In case you’re wondering, the beaten up car that Charlie drives is a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda.

You can catch Poker Face the TV series on Stan.


CHECKOUT: Cold Skin: The fish have hands and feet

CHECKOUT: Let the Right One In: There’s a lot at stake

Time out score

Final thoughts . . .

Nice one!


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