Tribeca Now Showcase Review: In The Cards (Episode 1) makes a fine first impression in spite of its morally questionable characters

There’s something delightful in a comedy series basing itself around a person who’s, for lack of a better word, awful.  Maybe awful is too strong a word.  Let’s go with morally questionable.  Either way, In The Cards, from writer/director Colin Kane Healey, centres itself around a morally questionable type who most would agree deserves that description: the psychic.

And not just any psychic, but a New York street-side scammer who’s able to throw out vague terms like “financial problems” and “love life” to reel in her poor, unsuspecting marks.  Said scammer is the fast-talking Dinah (Eleanore Pienta), who’s hoping to piggy back off the somewhat respected name of fellow psychic Gina (Sherilyn Fenn) and secure her own work.

Titled “The Fool”, this first episode of Healey’s hopefully secured series wastes little time in setting up Dinah’s character, her dynamic with the constantly tested Gina, the delusional manner in which she convinces herself she’s never in the wrong, and the one man (Michael Drayer) who seems likely to set her on her path of destruction; the overall outline of the shows describes it as Dinah’s rags to riches tale, with a spot on the FBI’s Most Wanted List as her eventual destination.

Whilst this first episode – which runs just shy of 28 minutes – doesn’t delve into Dinah’s presumably checkered past, Pienta’s impassioned performance suggests she’s a character who’s never had anything handed to her with ease.  As much as her actions are inherently wrong, there’s something about her that makes you want to keep watching; and even though the FBI’s Most wanted List is her destiny, Healey’s written her in such a way that a small part of you can’t help but want her to avoid such a fate – especially if there are those idiotic enough to trust her.

Outside of Pienta, Drayer makes a lasting impression as her first mark – the way his character ends the episode is a vehement treat – and it’s always a joy to see an actress like Fenn throw her effortless assertiveness around, but it’s the bounce of Nicole Kang‘s Lula that looks to be the show’s optimistic shine amongst the principally bankrupt.

Adhering to an unpolished look that only further plays into the dishonourable mentality of its players, In The Cards lays out enough of its hand to hopefully earn the good fortune required for a muti-episodic arc.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

In The Cards is screening as part of this year’s Tribeca NOW Showcase at the Tribeca Film Festival, which is being presented both virtually and physically between June 9th – 20th, 2021.  For more information head to the official Tribeca page.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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