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The Poker House
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Poker House More at IMDbPro »

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Powerful and drama filled coming-of-age.

Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
16 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Actress Lori Petty turns director for this harsh and gritty drama of a young 14-year-old girl named Agnes(Jennifer Lawrence)growing up in less desirable conditions in the mid 1970s. Agnes has two younger sisters and her mother Sarah(Selma Blair) is strung out on drugs. Everyday is a struggle for survival; Agnes looking after her sisters and trying to protect them from what goes on in their home. The house is host to degenerates playing cards, drugging, drinking and whoring. Sarah allows all the activity going on in the "poker house", because she herself is a major part of it. Agnes seems to be bright in spite of battling conditions to study in and is a talented local basketball hero. Life seems so dark and miserable, but Agnes has the resilience to make it to tomorrow. After seeing Lawrence in WINTER'S BONE, I am just that more assured she is one strong actress with unlimited abilities. Blair in this role is just as sensational. Playing the little sisters Sophie Bairley and Chloe Grace Moretz prove to have exciting and worth watching futures ahead. POKER HOUSE has a strong supporting cast featuring: Bokeem Woodbine, David Alan Grier, Andrew Rothenberg and Natalie West.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Felt a bit all over the place at times, not a terrible movie though

Author: KineticSeoul from United States
8 February 2011

This is one of the story in the life of Lori Petty, and I never knew how much of a difficult childhood she had. It's basically a depressing and yet well acted and well made movie to some degree about girls struggles. Mainly because of a bad mother and not a very good environment to be growing up in. Now the negative aspect of this movie is that, it seemed to drag in a lot of scenes. In fact some of the scenes actually seemed quite pointless. Basically the plot is about a tough girl who is also smart, but don't always make the right decision having to take care of her sisters as well as overcome her struggles with the environment. The plot seemed all over the place at times and got boring during sometimes as well. This is not a near perfect movie but it isn't as terrible as some people claim it to be. The ending was okay though.


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33 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

A Near Perfect Movie

Author: yossarian100 from usa
21 October 2009

A person's life is made up of many stories, and this is just one story from Lori Petty's life, but it's told with all the style of John Steinbeck. Speaking of style, something which is lacking in so many films today, even great ones, THE POKER HOUSE is done with an amazing amount of it, and the only thing you get more of than style in this movie is the incredible performances and characterizations of Jennifer Lawrence, Sophia Bairley, Chloe Moretz, and Selma Blair, an excellent supporting cast, and a to-die-for script. The final scene of this movie is not an ending, it's a beginning, and it's so powerful I jumped to my feet while watching it. Lori Petty has an incredible grasp of the art of visual storytelling. I can't wait to see what she does next.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Bravo to the actors and the characters they play!

Author: liajane19 from United States
31 January 2012

Selma Blair is amazing in The Poker House as a drug-addicted prostitute who has her three daughters living with her. Jennifer Lawrence also gives a wonderful performance as the eldest daughter, Agnes who takes care of her two younger siblings. The Poker House is narrated by Agnes as she tries to deal with being 14 and living in a house where there is gambling, drugs, alcohol, and pimps. The story definitely pulls on the heart strings at times, but it does not overwhelm with sadness that it makes it hard to enjoy. It adds just the right amount of humor that three young girls can produce while being silly together. I honestly was shocked by how well the movie was produced and the character portrayal. The Poker House is definitely something I would recommend to my friends, as well as watch again.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

One house to rent

Author: videorama-759-859391 from adelaide, australia
29 September 2014

Before JL was known, she lit up the screen here, among many other great performances in a true yet, I guess in one way, astounding story based on ex actress, Petty's childhood. Lawrence plays the the oldest sister to two youngin's whose irresponsible mother (Selma Blair) is a drunk and a heroin shooter. Her lover (Bokeem Woodbine) and pimp is having it off with Lawrence, in some intimately hot scenes, where I could see a talent on the rise. In this notorious house, there's pimping, boozing, partying, and of course poker playing. Lawrence does of steal the movie, really making an impact on the viewer, where surrounding performances are not to be underrated, particularly Blair, and a surprising David Allen Grier, as a blind barfly. Woodbine holds his own too, where he's always been an impressive acting talent, from his start in Jason's Lyric. His violent and threatening air to his character was just right, and made it's point. It's some of his best work. What goes on in this house, as from Point Break's Petty's personal biography, is certainly arresting. We even see a flash shot of a very young girl, getting groomed for prostitution, from JL's POV, watching outside. It's an eye opening movie indeed, and first time director, Petty, has brought something special here, in a poignant film that grabs you from end to finish. Definitely one for JL fans, to see how she started off. It's the acting which really makes it work, and again those JL kissing scenes, mmmmmmnnn.

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16 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

A bad HS play

Author: John Holden from United States
9 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This runs out much like a play: characters speak their lines and act individually rather than interact; folks jump in and out of scenes with dialog that has no relation to a narrative that might have been developed; quirkiness abounds.

The film opens with "based on a true story" and closes with a note that we've just seen the director's real life. OK, but realism and verisimilitude by themselves don't make for good art.

Oh, and it's narrated throughout so there's no possibility that you'll miss something. Narration is great for folks who don't want to take the time to film a story.

It's a shame because there's a good story here - kids growing up around - and being lead into - gambling, drugs, prostitution, theft, etc. We just don't see any of it. We see a superhero girl sententiously pushed down our throats by the writer-director.

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Hit Me

Author: aguchi69 from Texas
7 October 2014

I found this rare gem at the pawn shop because Walmart doesn't always have a better price or selection to beat (at times.) I saw a young JL and the Kick Ass girl (which made me wonder was this before or after Kick Ass?)Anyway, this movie has great acting by all those involved and its a sad true case of a story and just when I thought the ending might go unresolved, Bang, in your face! The movie is based on something real, which makes one realize that the theme and goings on, happen every night, at least somewhere in America but not everybody can break away from the cycle which is why the mothers role makes the example. Also, the part dealing with the religious aspect of the movie makes sense too because it can be abused and used to dominate the weaker lambs. All in all it's a worthy performance from the Hunger Games and Kick Ass chicks.

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Well, That Escalated Quickly.

Author: dillperrybruh from United Kingdom
18 September 2014

Okay, let me just start by saying; this is one of the best shot films i've seen in a long time. Let it be known that 80% of the cast were very young when this was shot, yet they perfectly recreated a "70's Cult Flick" theme. Very well done on that front. Plot line was very gritty and dark, but uplifting in a F**ked up sort of way. Supposedly a True Story. I gave it a seven because let it be known some of the acting is very cheesy but then that contributes to the "70's Cult Flick" theme mentioned earlier. We got a very basic character build up. It was essentially a day in the life. I personally would've liked to see more into the characters background. Smooth Start, Rough Middle, Nice Finish. Reminded me VERY MUCH of 8 Mile, Jennifer Lawrence playing Eminem's Character.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Poorly executed

Author: Tal Beresaad
18 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well, I don't even know where to start exactly. This movie already began to annoy me, when it started with the pseudo-intellectual voice-over monologue. Agnes is presented as a super likable, fun and intelligent character, who finds herself in a messed up life and tries to make the best out of this situation for herself and her sisters. Also, she is half poet, half sports-whiz and just generally a girl as swell as they get.

Agnes likableness however, seems about as forced as Jennifer Lawrences popularity today and the fact that the director is telling her own story in this movie makes it appear rather vain than convincing.

In addition, most characters - especially the black ones - seemed extremely stereotypical to me, to a point where it almost started to go into racism in my book. Then again, I haven't really met any black Americans in the seventies so who am I to judge?

The story would be fairly interesting from a biographical point of view, however it just doesn't really work well as a drama. Or well, it might have actually, the execution was just terrible. The only actually likable characters are Agnes' two younger sisters, who play a rather minor part in the story and apparently weren't even considered worth a note in the usual "XY went on to become..." credits.

The movie doesn't really have a coherent plot and rather seems like a collection of memories that were just patched together, so as a viewer you're left with individual scenes that you can either like or not. The latter being mostly the case for me.

Granted, I am not a native speaker and listening to spoken language without my much appreciated English subtitles is somewhat of a challenge at times. I therefore didn't quite catch a hundred percent of the dialog, although I must say that from what I've heard, that being let's say about 80%, I strongly doubt that there was any hidden genius that I've missed.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Overall a great, powerful film

Author: smrusk from United States
26 June 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers, so don't read if you want to experience the movie as I did!

I find it obnoxious how other people who reviewed this movie compare it to a bad HS play or use their one film class as a basis to think they could do a better job telling a memoir that doesn't belong to them.

I had no idea that the director was telling her own story. Had I known that, I feel I would have been less critical throughout. I found myself pulling for these kids to get out in some way, realizing that so many children simply don't.

The few things that I did not enjoy included some characters like the one played by David Alan Grier. While humorous, I'm not sure his role except to be a character.

The narration seemed spotty- I wish it had either been more consistent or taken out completely.

I thought Jennifer Lawrence was brilliant as always. Selma Blair blew me away- she was effective in playing a broken woman you struggle to empathize with. The other two girls were whimsical and you can tell how much their older sister works to protect them, allowing them to keep what little childhood they might have while Agnes literally has hers stolen away.

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