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Hard Eight (Sydney) (1996)



Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 10,945

My Rating

Movie Info

Before his commercial breakthrough with Boogie Nights (1997), writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson made this low-key drama. John (John C. Reilly), a half-bright loser stranded in Reno, is down to his last few bucks when Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall), taking pity on him, buys him breakfast and offers him a few tips on making money in the casinos. Two years later, John has become Sydney's partner, but his lack of common sense goes from problematic to dangerous when he falls in love with Clementine



Paul Thomas Anderson

Oct 5, 1999


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Latest News on Hard Eight (Sydney)

September 18, 2012:
My Week With PT Anderson, Day One: Hard Eight
Yeah, yeah, I know. How could I possibly have spent the last seven years working for one of the...


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All Critics (39) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (6) | DVD (12)

Anderson coaxes top-notch performances from the male leads and also from Gwyneth Paltrow.

January 22, 2002 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
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Has ... meaning and truth, not to mention scarred humanity.

January 1, 2000
Houston Chronicle
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It is really little more than a small resonant mood piece whose hard-bitten characters are difficult to like. But within its self-imposed limitations, it accomplishes most of what it sets out to do.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comment (1)
New York Times
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It's hugely refreshing to watch a movie populated almost exclusively by character actors.

January 1, 2000
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There's something almost hypnotic about the way Hard Eight develops -- even in its slowest, most tedious moments, it keeps our attention.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: ReelViews
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Movies like Hard Eight remind me of what original, compelling characters the movies can sometimes give us.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
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A near-classic in a minor key, and a must-see for fans of later work.

October 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4

...a low-key yet sporadically fascinating drama...

December 20, 2007 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

This minor Vegas-set drama, about a loser and his older mentor, shows the features that will mark Anderson's better films: love for his characters, taut dialogue at the expense of plot, and fascination with the possibilities of the film medium.

October 26, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Comment (1)

Estréia de Anderson, mostra que o diretor sempre teve talento para contar histórias, embora ainda não tivesse confiança o bastante para criar as belas tomadas e movimentos de câmera que marcam seus trabalhos posteriores.

July 25, 2003
Cinema em Cena

Suffice it to say that mood rules over story.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: E! Online
E! Online

A comedy without humor, a tragedy without emotion, and a story without meaning.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews


January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Anderson's screenplay is full of superb dialogue and has some unexpected twists.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

In many ways this film reminds me of Melville's wonderful film, Bob The Gambler...

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Odds are you'll like getting to the revealing good stuff. There are more than a few reasons why.

January 1, 2000
Jam! Movies

This being an acting piece, the four performances are of a very high order.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Sacramento Bee
Sacramento Bee

Anderson, who developed this first feature at the Sundance Institute, builds his characters well -- and the casting is perfect.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for Hard Eight (Sydney)

A commanding performance by Philip Baker Hall is the highlight of P T Anderson's character and mood driven debut.
November 20, 2007

Super Reviewer

A gambler takes a hapless fellow under his wing, but when he falls for the wrong woman, their lives could be threatened.
Paul Thomas Anderson's feature film debut is a slow-moving but compelling drama. Phillip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly, who would later become PTA alums, play characters reminiscent of their careers as a whole -- Hall a tough, restrained fatherly figure and Reilly a dumb, doe-eyed everyman. Usually these characters are confined to the background, but when PTA focuses on them, they are compelling.
The plot isn't much to write home about, and the last-act reveal isn't terribly surprising, but the film marches along inoffensively.
Overall, PTA's debut wasn't the harbinger of greatness that one might expect, but it's certainly worthy of his oeuvre.
May 2, 2014
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

A solid first feature from the praised P.T. Anderson concerning a mysterious figure named Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall) who shows compassion to two aimless young people (John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow) by taking them in under his wing, who in turn get him in the middle of a big mess involving an assault of a stranger. Hall has been one of those actors who pops up seemingly everywhere as a supporting piece, but there is no doubt that this is his show, and perhaps his finest hour, as he keeps the audience guessing as to what he is going to do next all while maintaining a composed demeanor. While far from Anderson's best film, that is a simple story that is very well acted and well-written. It is far from a masterpiece as it tends to drag in sections, but Hall's character makes this worth a view alone.
July 13, 2013
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Hard Eight may be a little anticlimactic but the continuous mood and intensity really does make for a thrilling watch. Don't get me wrong, this isn't really your stereotypical thriller, it's a lot more, or should I say, a lot lass than that. Less is more is what I'm trying to say. I've been a harsh critic of Anderson in the past, my reviews are from years ago and I don't really feel the same anymore although Boogie nights and Magnolia are still over-hyped for me, but maybe if I'd seen this first, I'd see his work in a new light. Not that I can be bothered to re-review films...
June 4, 2013

Super Reviewer

Movies Like Hard Eight (Sydney)

    1. Sydney: Never ignore a man's courtesy.
    – Submitted by Kia M (7 months ago)
    1. Sydney: Good that you have such a sturdy sense of responsibility.
    – Submitted by Kia M (7 months ago)
    1. Sydney: You know the first thing they should've taught you at hooker school? You get the money up front!
    – Submitted by Kia M (7 months ago)
    1. Sydney: This is a very fucked up situation.
    – Submitted by Kia M (7 months ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • Hard Eight (DE)
  • Hard Eight (UK)
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