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on October 6, 2009
This is the kind of movie that you are still thinking about when you wake up the next day. It is funny and sad at the same time. It is very inspiring because it is based on Lori Petty's life. The movie is far better than most of the junk that is release in the theaters. You won't be disappointed with it.
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on May 11, 2013
A surreal movie about the struggles of childhood enveloped in drugs and dysfunction at it's core. This movie is based from the 60's and shows of three Sisters who struggle to take care of themselves while their Mother abuses drugs and prostitutes herself for her Pimp who is her lifeline. The movie tells it all from the gut wrenching emotional abuse that the girls endure from their Mother. The neglect is unspeakable and you can feel the pain that the daughters feel. I recommend this movie to anyone willing to witness the all the elements of a family completely destroyed by drugs.
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on April 12, 2010
This movie is Antoine Fisher for girls. It reminds me of Boys Don't Cry in depicting how scary poverty in America is. It's about being born into an unlucky childhood where a bad mother can really destroy you. I have no idea whether this is a true story but it's nice to believe that the main character ultimately survives. This is a much better movie than White Oleander. This movie is made scarier for being set in the 1970s. Also, the lead actress looks like both Maggie Cheung and Hoku. She's lovely to look at and the two little girls who play her sisters are adorable. The Clarke Peters cameo was a treat and the soundtrack is terrific.
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on December 29, 2009
Not what I expected. The actress who portrays Lori and the actresses who play her sisters are very watchable. Sad movie but very, very interesting. I commend Lori for rising above her circumstances.
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on April 26, 2013
I bought "The Poker House" because it featured two of my favorite young actors, Jennifer Lawrence and Chloe Grace Moretz, in a 2008 film before they were famous.

Lawrence, who was 17 when this film was shot, plays barely 14-year old Agnes, the daughter of an emotionally-twisted, drug/ alcohol-addicted, prostitute-mother portrayed by the wonderful Selma Blair.

Moretz, who must have realistically been around 11 years old, is one of Agnes' sisters, Cammie. Sadly underutilized, Moretz has little to do in the story other than sit at a bar and trade non sequiturs with an alcohol-addled, delusional and paranoid barfly (David Alan Grier).

Agnes, as the de facto manager of this house of ill repute, is infatuated with a black pimp (Bokeem Woodbine) who treats her nice with gentle kisses while beating and selling her strung-out mother. Finally, the pimp decides it's time for Agnes to join Mommy and he viciously attacks the 14-year old. The violation is painful and hard to watch, Especially difficult to observe is the reaction, or should I say nonreaction to this violation by her mother who later makes it clear she would die for her pimp.

The Lawrence character has a big basketball game on this night of the molestation, What is her pre-game ritual? Stretching and Gatorade? Hardly, she drinks alcohol, and smokes weed & cigarettes. Then there's that little incident concerning the (dare we say it?) rape.

The casual viewer might think Agnes wouldn't have the right mindset for this contest. Casting her fate to the wind, she shows up for the game, although it is well into the second half. Donning her metaphor-like Wonder Woman suit, she pours in 27 points in 7 minutes to steal the victory. Agnes is laying on the floor after making the final shot. The fans and her teammates convulse into hysterical celebration! Meanwhile, does anyone care to pick up Agnes and offer her thanks for winning the game with her super-human effort. Short answer: No. She walks out of the gym with nary a word said to her. Not realistic.

The basketball scenes were beyong not believeable. They were AWFUL. Plus, a body double was used for Lawrence during the more-athletic moves, a fact confirmed by director Lori Petty in a special features interview.

I didn't like the movie. Director Petty said she based this story on her real life experiences while growing up in Iowa. Petty probably told a mostly-honest and accurate story with a little embellishment thrown in to spice up the plot. I found the storyline sad and detestable, many of the characters despicable with the overall effect creating an emotion of depression. I realize that is not a credible critique of Petty's moving-making skill. It just left me feeling rather ill.

Blair and Lawrence were brilliant. Lawrencce, already showing signs of greatness two years before her Academy Award-nominated role in "Winter's Bone" won the Outstanding Performance Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival for this portrayal of a bright but abused 14-year old, Lawrence is, indeed, a wonder.
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on October 19, 2014
Based on a true story that takes place in Iowa. Agnes (Jennifer Lawrence) is a 14 year old girl advanced for her age. She plays basketball, does calculus, holds down a local job, keeps the household together and gives dry boring narration about her life and dogs biting. Her mother (Selma Blair) owns the Poker House" which is known for poker, gambling, drinking, prostitution, and apparently drugs, although the nightly antics are basically limited to one night, so the audience never got the real feeling of despair.

Bee (Sophi Bairley) is 12 years old and delivers papers. She stays at the neighbors whenever possible. Cammie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is the youngest and in spite of all the praise for J-Law, I couldn't wait for her character to come on screen as she rattled off at the mouth.

The story is slow. It spends time to fully develop the sisters' characters. Agnes, is coming of age and has a touch of Jungle Fever, which becomes both her demise and finally salvation. It is an interesting tale, but it felt incomplete. Personally I thought Lawrence's acting in "Winterbone" smoked this one.

Parental Guide: F-bomb, rape, nudity (Selma Blair) 3 1/2 stars

The film leads you to believe this was the bio for Lori Petty but her IMDB bio reads: "She spent her childhood traveling the US with her father, a Pentecostal minister. Her keen talents first lent themselves toward being a graphic artist in Omaha, Nebraska, but an impulsive desire to act quickly took precedence and soon she was off to New York"

"She was the first female editor of the North High School newspaper and graduated in 1982.
Attended North High School, Sioux City, Iowa, where she was involved in Yearbook and speech/debate."

The film suggests she left for NYC at 14. Seems to be some missing story.
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on July 25, 2015
Dark and painful to watch, this is a true story as lived and written by the Director Lori Petty (Point Break). Petty doesn't sugar coat her life as a young woman in rural Missouri and Jennifer Lawrence plays the role of the 14 year-old Petty taking care of her siblings and her prostitute mother. They live in a gambling (Poker) house since her Meth-cooking father went missing. In order to keep her siblings from being split up she has to either find her dad alive or prove that he's dead. A story like this is hard for those of us in mainstream society to believe but it is told so honestly and in such sad detail that is must be true and a whole other world. I bought the film because I've become a fan of J-Law and after watching I am even more so.
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on July 14, 2015
This is a movie I've seen once before and I thought it was a great drama that kept you really feeling for this girl and her family. Her and her sister basically having to grow up before they should and being on their own in a way.

I love drama/truth based movies. That have a lot of issues within the family and it can sometimes go places you think they would never go. It really is a story of pain,family,and bravery for Jennifer Lawerence's character in this movie. She goes through a lot and really becomes stronger by the end of the movie.

Chloe's character is so sweet and innocent and just a joy to watch her act as I always do. It's a great sisterly movie with drama and chaos.
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on March 10, 2015
Young sisters growing up in a "poker house" which is the home where men come to play (illegal) card games, and his wife is a working girl which makes money on the side with the customers. The girls are her daughters, trials and tribulations of growing up in that environment. The bright spot was the presence and performance of Chloe Grace Moretz, this was earlier in her career. The depiction of growing up in 1960s Southern poverty, with a drug-abusing hooker mother and pimp father figure can be a little difficult to take at times. Overall very watchable and engaging.
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on April 1, 2014
Good movie, very intense but a great watch regardless. The three sisters are quite an interesting dynamic and the personalities are so interesting to watch. I love Jennifer Lawrence but she wasn't the only good thing about this movie.

Selma Blair was a hot mess and I almost couldn't believe it was her. She was great as well.
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