1996 / 101m - USA
Hard Eight poster


July 22, 2021


PT Anderson's first real feature film. Though I was quite the Anderson fan in the past, this film has always escaped me. My opinion of his work's a bit more nuanced nowadays, but it was pretty fun catching up with Hard Eight. It's a film that shows plenty of glimpses of Anderson's talent, though ultimately lacks the refinement of his best work.

John is a gambler down on his luck. Sydney, a master conman, feels sorry for John and decides to help him out. Sydney wants to pass on his knowledge and gives him some lessons, but he'll soon discover why things tend to go south for John. Still, he's dedicated to getting his pupil's life back on track, even when John kidnaps the guy that harassed his overnight wife.

A few minor, quirky details and a superb cast keep this film on the rails. Anderson already shows off a couple of shorter long takes, the plot and dialogues are playful and the actors give it their best, other than that it's all rather expected and not very distinctive. Just a fun crime flick made by a director who would go on to much bigger things in his career.