Hard Eight 1996

Hard Eight

Critics Consensus

An absorbing showcase for Philip Baker Hall, Paul Thomason Anderson's feature debut is a gamble that pays off handsomely.

80%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 46

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,933

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Movie Info

A stranger (Philip Baker Hall) mentors a young Reno gambler (John C. Reilly) who weds a hooker (Gwyneth Paltrow) and befriends a vulgar casino regular.

Cast & Crew

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Young Craps Player
Nathanael Cooper
Restroom Attendant
Robert Ridgely
Keno Bar Manager
Hans Brockmann
Executive Producer
François Duplat
Executive Producer
Keith Samples
Executive Producer
Robert Jones
Producer
Robert Elswit
Cinematographer
Barbara Tulliver
Film Editor
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News & Interviews for Hard Eight

Critic Reviews for Hard Eight

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (37) | Rotten (9)

Audience Reviews for Hard Eight

  • May 02, 2014
    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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jul 13, 2013
    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.
    Dan S Super Reviewer
  • Nov 19, 2012
    Hard Eight is Paul Thomas Anderson's first and most underatted film. Expanded from a a short he shot several years earlier. The story focuses on a down on luck loner (John C. Reilly) who meets a professional gambler (Phillip Baker Hall), they soon become partners and have some neat tricks when making easy money, But is not always a pleasure when you've other to care for. Anderson competently wrote and directored the low key drama with some first rate perfomances from Hall and Reilly and some great supports from Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson. Its definitley an essential film if your a lover of Paul Thomas Anderson's films.
    Luke E Super Reviewer
  • Dec 26, 2011
    Shocking and entretaining, Hard Eight is a film with good acting and terrific screenplay.
    Lucas M Super Reviewer

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