Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: The Poker House

The Poker House

You rated this movie: 5 of 5 stars

A gem in the heavy, gritty drama genre. By focusing more on character than circumstance, the film stands triumphantly in the oft-visited, oft-cliched premise of the difficult coming-of-age of 14 year-old Agnes, whose "Poker House" residence features regular parties with drugs, alcohol, prostitution, and the other usual suspects. It's not just a simple story of how a girl is able to save herself through one activity (basketball) or one savior (the classic outside intervener of indie film). It's much more reminiscent of Half Nelson, unabashedly showing much of the sheer brutality of the darker side of life while really drawing audiences into a character. The grittiest parts are indeed very difficult to watch, but therein lays much of the emotional punch of the film. Relative newcomer Jennifer Lawrence dominates the screen with a very impressive range. She is able to create a multi-faceted character, and the exploration of Agnes's life is one of the best, deepest character studies in recent memory. Lawrence's Agnes is at the same time strong and fragile, a protector and a victim, empowered and powerless. She is also the most complete strong female character since last year's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. Chloe Moretz is able to lighten up the mood periodically as one of Agnes's charming younger sisters, and Selma Blair and Bokeem Woodbine shine in their roles as Agnes's mother and her pimp.

Easily 5 stars, a difficult yet necessary & REAL depiction of life as it often it, not as we wish it to be, which means the end is always wrapped up in a pretty package, life goes on even after horrid events, people survive & move on, using their experiences to build character & strength. This movie is way under-rated. I was shocked at how good the acting was by everyone involved, didn't even recognize Selma Blair at all, and the pimp was despicable of course, as opposite the wonderful sisters as can be. I applaud Petty's courage in putting this out there and in telling the brutal truth, not sugar coating it or sacrificing any part of the story. Life is NOT fair, or pretty, or "normal" for most people, I'm tired of seeing movies that show a reality that's never existed. Dark as this is, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for these girls, that's all we can hope for in anyone's life. Towards the end I was concerned she'd kill herself, was wishing she'd killed the parent & pimp--no 2 people deserved it more, but she didn't sink to their level. Thanks for this film.

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