“Never risk what you can't afford to lose,” a key quote from Even Money aptly describes the compelling drama that follows the lives of nine individuals whose fates become entwined in a web of addiction and gambling.

With a stellar cast, great direction and an appealing story line, Kim Basinger and Forest Whitaker play the central characters. Basinger is Carolyn Carver, a writer by day and gambler by night desperately trying to break even after gambling away her family's entire life savings.

Whitaker plays another compulsive gambler who owes several bookies (Jay Mohr and Grant Sullivan) and has to rely on his little brother (Nick Cannon), an aspiring basketball player, to break even.

Kelsey Grammer, in a departure role from his previous comedic flicks, plays a local detective. Danny DeVito, portraying a washed up magician, rounds out an amazing cast in this unique approach to the seedy world of addiction.

Interesting and relatable, Even Money does remarkably well at examining the everyday choices we make when trapped in the dark and disturbing world of addiction. There is a wonderful camaraderie between Whitaker and Cannon, who has cultivated a huge popularity as a hip-hop artist, and the pairing of Basinger and DeVito is electric.

Ray Liotta, who also steers away from his previous typecast roles, is Basinger's husband “Tom Carveris,” a literature professor anxious to keep his family together.

On the downside, Even Money starts off with a slow build and can almost be accused of being too slow. Yet with an explosive ending, gratification is in sight. I give Even Money a thumbs-up for being a serious movie about gambling addiction and the extent to which addicts will go to break even.

Grade: B+