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Hard Eight

Hard Eight

1996
Drama
Suspense/Thriller
1h 41m
Sydney (Hall) is a poker-faced professional gambler with a soft heart for a hard luck story. He plays guardian angel to unlucky John (Reilly) and a hooker, Clementine (Paltrow), whom he grows to love like family. When John's and Clementine's honeymoon night leads to a disastrous hostage situation, Sydney takes care of it, as usual. But when slick casino pro Jimmy (Jackson) threatens to reveal a secret from Sydney's past that could destroy his relationship with the newlyweds, Sydney decides to hedge his bets and not leave anything to chance. (Sony)
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Hard Eight

1996
Drama
Suspense/Thriller
1h 41m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 56.59% from 1743 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(1742)
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Rated 14 Mar 2010
90
85th
A strong opening feature by P.T. Anderson. Isn't Philip Baker Hall fantastic? I have read a few other people criticizing the threadbare plot, but I just found its simplicity refreshing. They can't all be like Boogie Nights or Magnolia. This focused stuff is great as well.
Rated 02 Jul 2021
69
59th
Not to get too catty, but this was a hard six in my book.
Rated 27 Feb 2014
75
91st
Early on, Paul Thomas Anderson showed a mastery of cinema and cinematography that would eventually lead to his confirmation as one of the greats. It might be that apparent quality shining through that allowed him to attract such a wonderful cast to this film. An excellent neo-noir that feels like a spiritual successor to Scorsese's Casino, and a sign of things to come from PTA.
Rated 08 Aug 2010
82
86th
I might have a weak spot for melancholy casino-related movies. Hard Eight is a neat little character piece lifted to greater heights by the simply perfect Hall. The main disadvantage is that the whole is a little emotionally distant. Great camerawork, and some great monologues.
Rated 10 Apr 2017
80
67th
Sure, thematically it's rather insubstantial, instead simply being a mood piece, a solid crime drama, with understated acting that serves the end goal wonderfully. The simple plot is drenched in atmosphere, showcasing PTA's talent early. He came back to this kind of thing with Inherent Vice later on, where it's not necessarily "important" but I come out of thinking that was a damn good time, which is completely fine.
Rated 03 Jul 2019
74
68th
This is a really quite enjoyable and atmospheric little character piece, with fine performances from the small cast, Baker Hall in particular - I really wanted to know more about what Sydney got up to. It was made with some care and skill, and if I didn't find the plot hugely involving or the characters particularly sympathetic, it was very compelling. The end part perhaps jars with the noir-ish mood and tone of the first part to a degree, but this is a very accomplished debut.
Rated 12 Jul 2009
90
79th
Hard Eight is a visually great movie. Anderson's first work offers a great cast up ahead Philip Baker Hall. Even the secondary charakters like Philip Seymour Hoffman's short tryst is brilliant too. It's not the plot that stands in the center...it's the whole schmear that creates a special atmosphere. Slow & patient..but never boring. Great
Rated 08 Feb 2015
75
72nd
Anderson's low-key debut features Sydney, a professional gambler and perennial loner, taking a troubled young man under his wing. It's understated but powerful, with a small scope that allows for great characterisation and effective dramatic conundrums, with Philip Baker Hall terrific in a rare leading role.
Rated 19 May 2008
73
64th
It's the actors that make this, with John C. Reilly playing his simpleton role perfectly as usual, and Philip Baker Hall being completely cool and collected as Sydney. Samuel L. Jackson is great too. The plot is somewhat slow, but it keeps your interest, especially when shit starts to go down. Not as good as PTA's later stuff, but you can see his characteristic style developing here.
Rated 29 Jan 2011
82
79th
Despite a few storytelling missteps along the way, this is a fun and compelling film, with the acting covering up the weak points. An early indication of PT Anderson's directorial talent.
Rated 28 Nov 2016
7
22nd
Need to revisit after Master and IV, but I think it's the intimate scale of this film that makes is meandering nature more acceptable. From the beginning, we get that we're following this mixture of the Midnight Run Sydney character and Bob Le Flambeur and PTA's more interested in just visiting that world. A similar father/son dynamic to The Master's Freddie/Master dynamic, but more subdued. This feels more genuine to PTA, but maybe it is just a piece of its time and PTA has moved on.
Rated 14 Sep 2011
73
73rd
The opening scene is classic PTA in style and presentation, and is in fact probably this movies finest moment. From there it is sadly all downhill, but not too steeply! Throughout the rest of "Hard Eight" although there are flashes of that unqiue PTA style, they are relatively few and far between. Even so, despite the loss of direction in the last half there is still so much here to enjoy in terms of the script, score, photography, and performances. Baker Hall in particular is supurb.
Rated 24 Sep 2010
81
66th
Caught between being a big-budget Scorsese look-a-like and a Sundance-funded indie flick, this first feature is still impressive due to it's slow storyline development, smart script/dialogue, familiar PTA camera-shots (lite versions, expectedly), and some great performances, especially from Philip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly; I could really do with a film of just those two guys talking to each other for two hours, which is almost what this film is.
Rated 17 Jan 2016
80
78th
Philip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly were there typical flawless selves. Kind of weird seeing Reilly in this as I haven't seen him look that young in a long time. The ending did feel a little rushed with them trying to do a reveal and wrap everything up real quick, but I'd rather it be rushed than take too long.
Rated 13 Jul 2015
4
13th
With Reilly,Jackson and Hall on the bill; the film had a fair chance at being a decent movie. Soon after the plot jump into 2 years,the storyline begins to loose steam. This is partly due to the lack of character building, particularly with protagonist Sydney, whose mysterious past should have been enough to drive the movie. Alas, the film falls short as it ends riddled with lazy half-answers and ambiguity.
Rated 21 Jul 2009
86
82nd
Although it doesn't match the quality of his films to come, this film works quite well, mainly due to the cast. John C. Reilly gives his best serious performance, and Philip Baker Hall is amazing. Over all a good movie, but it lacks the confident style that Anderson would begin to showcase with Boogie Nights.
Rated 25 May 2009
80
68th
Intriguing, sad little story. Philip Baker Hall especially is great as one of the most impressive characters in 90s movies: he may be smarter and tougher than anybody else in the room, but he still has barely any kind of life, and he's not getting any younger
Rated 09 Aug 2012
86
70th
Great dialogue-heavy film. That opening scene with John C Reily sounded and came off terribly, but it appears to be more his clueless bonehead character as the film goes on. Sam Jackson sounded like he just finished making Pulp Fiction earlier that day - which isn't a bad thing. EXCELLENT cameo by Hoffman! Fun little movie that showed early signs of PTA's brilliance.
Rated 06 Jun 2013
75
77th
Melancholy character study with good performances by Reilly and Paltrow and a truly great one by Baker Hall. Sam Jackson... not so much. Although to be fair it's not really his fault, because his character is only there for the plot-driven second half of the film, which feels contrived and shallow compared to the sublime first half.
Rated 06 Aug 2008
97
99th
Often overlooked early film from PT Anderson. It's a shame more people have not given this film a chance.
Rated 04 Jan 2022
60
35th
Loved seeing Hoffman with a mullet-like hairdo. Philip Baker Hall really elevates this film. I don't think Reilly has ever looked young.
Rated 02 Sep 2019
60
42nd
This didn't work for me as well as I'd hoped. I didn't really buy into the plot. The things characters did, their motivations, and the later plot developments weren't all that believable to me. There is some good cinematography but also a few shots that betray the first film nature, and some of the dialogue is majorly over-written. Kind of feels like PTA attempting Tarantino dialogue by way of a Scorsese picture before truly finding his own voice as an auteur. Good performances and ending
Rated 26 May 2013
70
67th
It was good. Not great, but good. It's nowhere near as polished as Anderson's subsequent films, for sure. Still, you can see the emerging talent that he was. The film itself was reminiscent of Pulp Fiction (1994), and not just because of Samuel L. Jackson's appearance. The performances were fine, and it had some really nice touches, but ultimately, the story didn't do too much for me.
Rated 20 Apr 2008
65
35th
Strong acting and nicely shot, but way too thin on storyline and directorial guidance. I didn't feel much of anything when it was over.
Rated 03 Aug 2020
92
89th
Love me some Paul Thomas Anderson especially with John C. Reilly. But Philip Baker Hall has the best character in this one.
Rated 09 Feb 2014
68
65th
While there is some PTA hiding in here somewhere, it is few and far between. Some good individual performances help elevate a slightly messy story. Worth watching for glimpses of what PTA would mature into.
Rated 06 Jan 2013
82
69th
A strong debut from Paul Thomas Anderson which mixes stock crime thriller elements with complex characters and a focus on patriarchial relationships. Shot very well and excellent performances (though Paltrow and Reilly seem a bit out of their depth) but the third act is clumsy and full of exposition, disappointing compared to the subtlety of what came before.
Rated 10 Apr 2013
71
64th
A great script and great performances make this worth watching even without the added incentive of seeing a first effort by one of the greats. Apparently PTA "lost control" of the movie, which may explain why it lacks the unique vision that his later films exhibit, but that could also very well be the growing pains of a first time feature director. Either way, Hard Eight is worth a watch for all but the most casual of film fans.
Rated 18 Feb 2015
68
68th
Impressive debut from P.T. Anderson. Shows some of the auteur's trademark themes and stylistic choices.
Rated 17 Mar 2015
65
47th
Maybe my knowledge about his later films make me grade it not too high but it's obvious that despite his trademarks which function well there and his usual theme the father-son struggle, "Hard Eight" seems to offer not much in terms of narrative as it offers in terms of narration. But still I nice debut.
Rated 20 Jan 2014
79
53rd
the characters are interesting and realistic; the story is pretty captivating and at times comedic
Rated 10 Mar 2015
80
35th
PTA's debut is an assured one, but he won't realize his full potential until Boogie Nights
Rated 25 Jul 2014
60
57th
I wish PTA made more movies like this.
Rated 11 Feb 2014
75
64th
Anderson, in his first feature, delivers gritty, low-key noir with the confidence, grace, and restraint of an old pro. Not nuts about the weakness of the female roles, iffy sound design, or the ending that screams writer's block.
Rated 18 Dec 2014
5
42nd
Focused, human, and simple. Some stilted dialogue and a half-hearted ending brings it down significantly, but it's a solid debut.
Rated 05 Mar 2014
80
44th
Great cinematography, interesting characters, and acting that manages to make the hokiest of lines in the movie work. The plot never goes too far in suspense or stakes, but there's enough atmosphere and character to it that makes up for that.
Rated 03 Nov 2014
75
34th
Its good, but it definitely feels like a "first film".
Rated 05 Jan 2017
90
59th
1436: good job!
Rated 17 Aug 2019
70
56th
PTA's debut is a less developed version of many of the themes he'd revisit later, almost entirely carried by its outstanding cast.
Rated 19 Feb 2024
50
26th
While there's a lot of talent on parade, doesn't quite add up to a full statement.
Rated 29 Sep 2021
65
40th
Initially very exciting when it seems like some modern day Biblical parabole/fable of lost innocence (Baker Hall is blatantly Satan in this movie), but as soon as the should-be shocks hit they weakly ripple and fade. The flickering neon delirium and crammed casinos of PTA's Reno provide as good a "character" of neo noir as any equally captivating performance here, and his patience with the camera lets you take in every noxious whiff, but the script kneecaps substance out from under style.
Rated 05 Jul 2021
80
62nd
Hard Eight is the full length version of Anderson's short Coffee & Cigarettes. That short was interesting. Sydney, Philip Baker Hall, plays a mysterious stranger that offers to help people. In Hard Eight there is a very real reason behind his decision to help John C. Reilly's character. This movie had some interesting twists and turns. A lot of the regulars show up in this early Paul Thomas Anderson movie. I would definitely watch it again if it's on but I don't think I would buy it.
Rated 14 Feb 2021
30
35th
The plot is a bit loose at points, and certain gaps could have used a bit of explanation, but overall it's worth a watch.
Rated 02 Feb 2021
3
72nd
First footsteps of a solid director.
Rated 15 Dec 2020
46
10th
Hall and Reilly were not good, bordering on really bad at times. The poor writing even made Samuel L Jackson seem dull and stilted. The plot is really underwhelming. The only bright spots are a pretty good performance from Paltrow and a scene stealing cameo from Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Rated 16 May 2020
90
67th
Not everyone gets a calling card this good.
Rated 20 Mar 2020
56
65th
Seen: 2.
Rated 09 Oct 2019
8
78th
PTA lite, but still ten times better than most movies out there. Some of his finest character work is on display here and say what you want about Robert Elswit being a cynical weirdo, the guy is an amazing DP who at least knows his shit and how to film a proper close-up, something thats sadly missing from movies these days. PSH also kills it in the one scene he's in.
Rated 24 Jul 2015
70
46th
Give the rights back to PTA and this film would've been so much better given the fact of how badly cut it was. Its latter half would work as a fantastic series finale.
Rated 15 Nov 2018
70
47th
A lot of good stuff wrapped up inside of a rather small, simple package. Would've loved to see more of Sydney working the casinos. I thought the big reveal was a bit weak and so was everything after it - but I enjoyed the deadpan delivery of the first few acts.
Rated 01 Oct 2018
78
58th
78.00
Rated 14 Jan 2018
60
67th
Uneven film with a solid core of character -- a lot of which goes unsaid or appears by implication -- surrounded by a thin veneer of plot.
Rated 30 Dec 2017
65
59th
It's pretty good first film fellas.
Rated 16 Aug 2017
40
10th
Boring, uninteresting protagonist and story. Bad film.
Rated 04 Nov 2012
83
26th
82.500
Rated 09 Sep 2016
72
63rd
Very effective thriller with a number of top notch performances.
Rated 02 Sep 2015
80
80th
Hard Eight is far from Anderson's usual large ambitions, but it's no worse off for it and even avoids his tendencies to overextend himself. The unlikely friendship and tutelage of Sydney and John creates an interesting dynamic not typical for stories such as these, and the score is top notch. A highly entertaining and consistent film.
Rated 05 Jun 2008
80
64th
Há 25 anos o primeiro longa de Paul Thomas Anderson estreava no festival de Sundance e o resto é história. Por alguma razão não lembrava de nada sobre esse filme e era meu menos favorito do PTA justamente por isso, mas ele é um ótimo neo-noir e não precisa se envergonhar de ser o irmão menos famoso de um pai tão distinto. Box Versátil Paul Thomas Anderson Essencial.
Rated 24 Nov 2009
72
76th
I haven't seen *The Master*, but I think this is PTA's best film--or at least it's my favorite. Liked Phillip Baker Hall in this roll.
Rated 22 Nov 2009
75
22nd
A lot flatter than I expected. Some great shots and monologues, but overall disappointing.
Rated 18 Aug 2009
74
33rd
Starts off strongly with some connecting storylines, the characters are likeable and continue to develop steadily. I didn't like where it went in the second half of the movie, why did Samuel L. Jackson have to be there ruining everything like he always does? Could have been so much more. Still, really well shot considering how early he made it.
Rated 29 Jun 2009
65
57th
Overall Enjoyment: 25/40, Plot/Themes: 15/20, Cinematography/Direction: 10/20, Acting/Writing: 15/20
Rated 22 Apr 2009
4
56th
Is PTA trying to imitate noir? The characters are so ineffectual, and events so barely explained, that I can't get much out of this. The acting is good enough to keep it from a complete bore.
Rated 05 Jan 2009
65
40th
The story is good and the actors do a good job but PT's directing isn't quite there yet. I didn't like the dialogue either.
Rated 05 Jan 2009
80
83rd
Anderson creates a perfect mood with the use of camera and music. Although the ending felt a bit rushed and had few badly directed scenes the movie still keeps you in it's grip with the help of great actors.
Rated 29 Jul 2008
32
24th
Somewhat of a PT Anderson fan, but his first feature leaves much to be desired.
Rated 29 Jun 2008
7
68th
PTA is one of my favorite directors but this is easily his worst movie. I know he lost control of it but despite that I can't believe he matured from this to Boogie Nights in only a year. PSH is great as usual despite literally like 2 minutes of screen time.
Rated 07 Jun 2008
75
89th
Great film.
Rated 12 Feb 2010
89
80th
Perhaps Philip Baker Hall's finest performance (although my choice is his portrayal of Nixon in Altman's "Sacred Honor.") Good acting and directing from all concerned.
Rated 17 Apr 2008
86
87th
An excellent crime film. The character development is handled expertly, doling out just enough to keep you interested, and then surprised.
Rated 22 Feb 2008
8
88th
Not as tight as PTA's later stuff, but still shows his talent visually. Great acting and great pacing as well.
Rated 30 Dec 2007
80
64th
30 Aralik 07- 01:58. internetten indirdim.pt anderson'un ilk filmi.bence bir ilk filme gore oldukca iyi.pta, daha sonra sik sik kullanacagi kamera hareket & stilini burda da gostermis.senaryo biraz"cik" zayif olsa da oyunculuk ve yonetmenlikle bu kapatilmis.Bence ilk filme gore oldukca basarili bir yapim.pta, hala favori yonetmenim...
Rated 20 Oct 2007
84
75th
I'm fonder of this now than I was when I first saw it way back when. The flaws are more obvious (histrionics and exposition, in particular), but I am enamored with Hall's performance and the arc of his character, if there is one. The fruitlessness of covering for our sins combined with the occasional fruitfulness of our attempts is such a fascinating and deeply human tension that marks the journeys of all of us. There is a kind of grace in it all.
Rated 17 Sep 2007
70
63rd
solid
Rated 14 Aug 2007
78
81st
A simple movie but with an interesting story, some great performances, and flawless direction.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
85
84th
Satisfying and smart.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
87
89th
Anderson's best film.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
70
76th
One of the great modern noirs.
Rated 11 May 2011
70
43rd
PTA, must see again.
Rated 22 May 2013
70
44th
I can't say I ever felt like the film quite tunneled as deep as I would have liked but Sydney still makes for an interesting character not least of all due to a really great performance by Philip Baker Hall. I wasn't convinced by the set-up we are eventually given in the casino but it was a well put together, engaging film.
Rated 17 Nov 2012
60
24th
Good directing, but only decent writing. Great acting though.
Rated 06 Nov 2012
78
26th
77.500
Rated 12 Dec 2006
82
67th
A notch below Anderson's other works, but that's no slight when talking about one of the best directors working today. It's a very fine debut effort with strongly developed characters, especially Philip Baker Hall's Sydney.
Rated 04 Nov 2012
63
40th
Anderson shows his promise in this well directed début. His trademark techniques haven't yet been perfected but it still looks, sounds and feels great. The score repeatedly had me smiling. The cast is pretty strong, particularly Philip Baker Hall. In stark contrast to these highlights the plot is uninteresting and some of the story is rushed. It's impossible to care for the characters we know so little about and the themes are explored much more thoroughly in PTA's later films.
Rated 02 Nov 2012
3
73rd
Strangely paced but interesting crime drama that felt unfinished yet strangely satisfying.
Rated 02 Jul 2012
80
74th
An incredibly well made film, and with another viewing, it could be one of my favourite PTA films. Subdued, with brilliant performances across the board - but, Boogie Nights still takes the cake for me - this obviously isn't on the same level, but watching his other films might have sullied this one a little bit...
Rated 30 Jun 2012
75
69th
An impressive debut from one of the world's greatest contemporary filmmakers.
Rated 17 Dec 2011
87
92nd
This is a great early film by Paul Thomas Anderson. Philip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly give outstanding performances. The characters are interesting for the entire film. Definitely check this one out.
Rated 12 Jun 2013
12
8th
Some nice bits of acting and cinematography but the script is so dull that it doesn't make much of a difference in the end. There are no characters to care about.
Rated 24 Apr 2011
72
75th
I guess there is not anything special about the story, but PTA, a director of absorbing filmmaking, tells it in an elegant fashion, that manages to be attractive even when the plot seems a bit lazy. Clementine is Gwyneth Paltrow's best role ever.
Rated 28 Mar 2011
60
43rd
Anderson showed a knack for creating interesting characters here, but his trademark style that he adapted later on has not yet developed at that time.
Rated 10 Feb 2011
3
38th
It doesn't quite escape its film-school trappings (the occasionally stilted dialogue, crime movie cliches, etc.), but the execution makes it worth a look - PTA's already quite adept with a camera at this point, and the performances are very solid across the board, giving archetypal characters a bit more depth than you'd expect. The leap he made from this to Boogie Nights was tremendous, but the talent is already evident.
Rated 26 Dec 2010
82
71st
82.000
Rated 20 Oct 2010
6
52nd
Sad that PTA lost control but it really wasn't anything special either way.
Rated 17 Oct 2010
65
71st
Low-key, deadpan, mostly dry noirish drama that benefits enormously from the cast (though Paltrow has never been one of my favourites). Some excellent dialogue, although the narrative somewhat loses its way in the third act, coming to a rather perfunctory and ultimately disappointing conclusion. I enjoyed the overall sensibility, although there was, in spite of its overall detachment, still an element of emotional contrivance, as in Anderson's later efforts such as PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE and MAGNOLIA.
Rated 08 Aug 2010
80
52nd
Very, very interesting. Philip Baker Hall is fantastic in his role as Sydney. The direction is great. But something just didn't sit right with me. I liked it, but didn't love it.
Rated 05 Apr 2010
49
8th
Sydney's an interesting enough character. Still didn't prevent this from feeling like a waste of time.
Rated 10 Mar 2010
75
58th
Although I'd wash PT Anderson's car if he asked me, or fuck his wife or something, I can't make myself enjoy this movie. It's just okay.

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