Already featuring some of the desperation and melancholy that would go on to characterize most of his work, Paul Thomas Anderson's Hard Eight manages to draw palpable suspense and drama out of, essentially, three characters and a couple of seedy locations. We learn perhaps too little about these characters and why this veteran gambler is drawn to a young homeless man, but there's also something intriguing about how Anderson suggests much larger and much crueler stories going on just out of sight. It truly feels like these people are just trying to hold on to the smallest things that ease their pain—which works because of incredibly compelling work from Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, and a young Gwyneth Paltrow already at the top of her game.
Genre: Crime, Drama
Actor: Ernie Anderson, F. William Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jake Cross, John C. Reilly, Melora Walters, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Gross, Robert Ridgely, Samuel L. Jackson, Wendy Weidman
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson