MOVIE REVIEW: THE POKER HOUSE (2008)

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Selma Blair, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sophi Bairley
Director: Lori Petty

2008’s The Poker House was Jennifer Lawrence’s first leading role, and she nailed it. Usually I fangirl pretty hard for Jennifer but I will keep it at a minimum for this review.

The Poker House 2008

Picture it

Iowa. 1976. Agnes (Lawrence) is 14 years old with two younger sisters, Bee (Bairley) and Cammie (Moretz). Her mother Sarah (Blair) is a drugged-out hooker, and Sarah’s pimp Duval (Woodbine) invites all kinds of low-lifes to gamble and have sex in Sarah’s home.

Is there a plot? Not really.

This movie may frustrate some people who want to experience a strong plot or conflict. This movie plays out as ‘A Day in the Life of Agnes.’ Some scenes feel very lazy and insignificant, and I notice this seems to happen when the movie focuses on Cammie and Bee. Agnes kicks them out of the house repeatedly so they won’t have to see Sarah using drugs and flirting with her johns. The bulk of the dramatic scenes center around Agnes as she takes in her surroundings.

A strong trio

Jennifer Lawrence, Selma Blair, and Bokeem Woodbine all carry this movie, and I felt sadness, anger, and disbelief every time I watched them together. Duval is the ultimate creep, and his intentions throughout the movie are very clear. The horrible mother-daughter relationship between Sarah and Agnes was interesting, because in most movies the daughter will rise to the occasion and be a mother to her own mom, but in this movie we are sorely reminded that Agnes is only 14 and she is very naive about certain things.

Is it worth watching?

I found this movie on Hulu, and I’m certain Jennifer Lawrence fans will enjoy her performance. You can see how this role prepared her for Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone. 

If you watched The Poker House let me know what you thought about it!

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