Directed by: Luke Korem
Starring: Richard Turner, Johnny Thompson and Max Maven
Running Time: 1h 25min
Genre: Documentary, Biography
4 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
Dealt is a fascinating documentary about an extraordinary individual who overcame tremendous odds to become, not only a black belt in karate but an award-winning Mechanic Magician. Every goal he set for himself was met and sometimes exceeded. At an early age, an unlikely event befell him, and he felt he had no choice but see the mountain on top of him as something to climb rather than to simply lay under and do nothing to get it to move. A lesser person may have faced this with great contempt but Richard Turner ignored the weight that had just been dropped on top of him and found a way to adjust it to suit him. How? With loving support, the strength of character and a deck of cards. The incredibly likable, energetic and humorous Richard can trick the best of them and with only what he’d call one small roadblock in his life, Richard is blind.
The film is magnificent as it goes through his life in sections, when he lost his sight and what brought him to meet the magician that turned his life around. That magician was Dai Vernon, one of the most important figures in magic ever. It’s said even Harry Houdini couldn’t figure out his tricks. Vernon taught Richard, who started his interest in cards from watching westerns, how to properly handle a deck, starting with how to hide a trick from your audience. From that moment on, there wasn’t a time when he was without a deck in his hands. He became so close with Vernon that he was even told some of his secrets which have never been shared.
Visually, to get the point across as to what life was like for Richard, director Luke Korem shows us what he experienced as his vision started to go but quickly refocuses attention on the fact that for most of his life he refused to live as a blind man. Teased as a young boy, when he grew up and had more control over his life, he examined his circumstances and didn’t see being blind as a disability but as a challenge, one he accepted without fear as some might choose to. He and his wife had a son and named him Asa, his middle name is Spades, who he loved very much and who assisted him but no one other than those two individuals has ever really helped him. Even so, he all but hid the fact that he couldn’t see from anyone who didn’t need to now that about him, even from a live audience. Soon with his tremendous experience came success and with success came attention but whenever people mentioned his abilities and skill with cards, they’d always equate them with the fact that he couldn’t see which upset him greatly. This became a hurdle that was difficult to jump.
The documentary is over an hour long and in that time, we see Asa leave for college and though he tries to suppress it, Richard crumbles. The boy who has been by his side since he was old enough to peek over a card table is gone. The mighty and impenetrable Richard Turner, maybe the first time, now realizes how much he truly has depended on someone other than just himself. This is how the documentary ends, with Richard finally admitting to himself that it’s okay to accept your weaknesses and the generosity of others. Perhaps the healthiest thing he did was see the loss of his visions as a blessing in disguise. He would have never accomplished what he had otherwise. Similarly, you wouldn’t have known about this had I not told you about it. Since I did, do something for YOU and see this over the weekend!
*In Phoenix at Harkins Shea 14 or a theatre near you.