'Dealt' - Movie Review

I don't know a great deal about magic - I've watched and enjoyed a lot of Penn & Teller's "Fool Us," but that's the extent of my magical education. Despite that, I'm familiar with the name of "Richard Turner." If you don't know it, you should look him up on YouTube - particularly his performance on "Fool Us." Two of the most knowledgeable magicians in the world watch him with their mouths open because he does, indeed, fool them. His skills with a deck of cards are legendary: watching him deal the second card from the deck is amazing. Especially when he turns over the top card so you can see that it never moves while he continues to deal. It looks totally natural, and the fact that he's demonstrating a cheating skill with perfect ease is both deeply disturbing and incredibly impressive.

Oh, did I mention? He's totally blind.

"Dealt" is a 2017 documentary about Richard Turner's life. Early on, someone refers to him as "on the crazy side of obsessive-compulsive," and they're not wrong: the man is shuffling cards when he works out, when he eats, when he sits on the couch relaxing, he never sets them down. But the movie isn't so much about his card artistry (although it couldn't avoid it even if it wanted to as it runs right through his entire life), but about his family and his coming to terms with his own blindness - something he's avoided for decades. He started going blind around ten, and was almost entirely blind by his mid-twenties, but has tried so hard to not be defined by his blindness that his behaviour became a refusal to acknowledge it. But his sister (who he seems to be very close with) had the same eye disease he had, and over the two or three years the movie followed him, he clearly became more accepting of the idea that he could be blind without it being his most important characteristic. It felt like he'd finally accepted that he truly was the best in the world at what he did: many laymen and almost all magicians have known that for more than a decade - he's late to the party. And sure, many of us are more surprised that he did it blind: but that doesn't really matter in the end because he is the best, period, end of story. And in understanding that, he's learning to live with the condition and become an inspiration to others who are blind and near-blind, showing what they can achieve.