POKER HOUSE, THE: DVD
Fourteen year old Agnes (Jennifer Lawrence) shares her life in 1976 Iowa with her two young sisters Bee and Cammie (Sophie Bairley and Chloe Grace Moretz) and their drug addicted, prostitute mother Sarah (Selma Blair). Her lover and pimp, Duval (Bokeem Woodbine) tears their world apart, by dealing drugs, abuse and prostitution in the family home overrun by gamblers, thieves and johns.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Based on the childhood experiences of co-writer/director Lori Petty, The Poker House is one of those autobiographical films - like Running With Scissors - that shows how children can survive and even prosper emotionally, spiritually (eventually) despite a ghastly childhood. That, after all, is one of the main reasons for telling such a story. Lori Petty, here called Agnes and sensationally played by Jennifer Lawrence, is a lovely flower among the weeds that inhabit her world - her mother Sarah (Selma Blair) included. Blair, too, delivers a mesmerising character that is complete, although in her case she's also completely abhorrent, a cocaine snorting, booze addled tart whose absence of morality is as awful as the absence of a mothering instinct. Her physical and emotional neglect of Agnes and her two little sisters Bee and Cammie (Sophie Bairley and Chloe Grace Moretz) is surely criminal, and certainly ugly. Both youngsters give knockout performances as sweet innocent girls on the outside, who have grown up all too quickly - but cling to the joys of childhood at any opportunity.
Also outstanding is Bokeem Woodbine as Duval, the live-in pimp and organiser of the poker games that give the house its name. His abuse of the 14 year old virginal Agnes is the final straw that sets off the reactions that lead to Agnes carving a new life for herself.
It's a sobering moment when she is in pain and trauma on the floor under Duval and we hear her innermost, desolate thought: 'Now I've got one of my mum's pimps' baby growing inside of me...'
Petty (who is also a busy actress, painter and sitcom producer) directs with understandable empathy and insight, and is aided by a strong and apt soundtrack, and excellent cinematography.
(Amazingly, Lori Petty's family is now reconciled and in a warm, close relationship. See & Hear Andrew L. Urban's interview with her)
Published December 17, 2009
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LORI PETTY INTERVIEW & PODCAST
POKER HOUSE, THE: DVD (R)
CAST: Jennifer Lawrence, Selma Blair, David Alan Grier, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyla Abercrumbie, Clarke Peters, Sophia Bairley, Chloe Grace Montez,
PRODUCER: Stephen J. Cannell, Michael Dubelko
DIRECTOR: Lori Petty
SCRIPT: Lori Petty, David Alan Grier (story, Lori Petty)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ken Seng
EDITOR: Tirsa Hackshaw
MUSIC: Mike Post
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Lisa Wolff
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD
SPECIAL FEATURES: -
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Opal Movies
DVD RELEASE: December 16, 2009