Improbabilities pile higher than chips on the card tables glimpsed throughout "The Odds," a Vancouver-set teen noir with lead performances appreciably more persuasive than helmer Simon Davidson's screenplay.

Improbabilities pile higher than chips on the card tables glimpsed throughout “The Odds,” a Vancouver-set teen noir with lead performances appreciably more persuasive than helmer Simon Davidson’s screenplay. Melodrama periodically recalls Rian Johnson’s 2006 “Brick” as its tenacious high-school protagonist plays detective to uncover a classmate’s killer. The difference here is, this adolescent shamus usually spends his time playing illegal poker games and suspects his late buddy, another poker enthusiast, won big from bad people. Expect penny-ante biz in theatrical and homevid venues.

Tyler Johnston effectively channels the mid-’80s Tom Cruise as Desson, a 17-year-old gambler who refuses to believe his friend Barry (Calum Worthy) committed suicide. Following a trail that leads from a basement gambling parlor operated by a classmate to a downtown eatery where games are played for higher stakes, Desson loses nearly everything while betting on his deductive prowess. Pic boasts a few amusing touches — a stern-faced mom only grudgingly approves of her son’s poker racket — but is most believable when Desson gets a serious beatdown from grown-ups who don’t appreciate snoops of any age.

The Odds

Canada

Production

A Kinosmith release of a Kaos Prods. production. (International sales: Visit Films, New York.) Produced by Kirsten Newlands, Oliver Linsley. Executive producers, Kirsten Newlands, Simon Davidson. Directed, written by Simon Davidson.

Crew

Camera (color), Norm Li; editor, Greg Ng; music, Patrick Caird; production designer, Scott Moulton. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Canada First!), Sept. 12, 2011. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Tyler Johnston, Jaren Brandt Bartlett, Calum Worthy, Julia Maxwell, Robert Moloney, Scott Patey.

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