Lori Petty directs her own story in “The Poker House”


For many of us, the name Lori Petty brings to mind the very happy memory of A League of Their Own.

And the very strange memory of Tank Girl.

Now Petty has emerged in a different kind of role: director. Her film, The Poker House, which premiered at last year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, is in limited theater release this week and will be out on DVD August 18. (Thanks to @melsil for the heads-up.)

The Poker House, which Petty wrote with David Alan Grier, is a true coming-of-age story based on her own life. Agnes (Jennifer Lawrence) and her sisters Cammie and Bee grow up with their strung-out, hooker mother Sarah (Selma Blair), a pimp “dad” and a house filled with gamblers, criminals and johns.

Agnes, who is 14, raises her sisters and manages the household while still keeping up with her schoolwork and basketball team. Reviews describe Lawrence’s performance as “commanding,” even when she doesn’t speak a word. Interestingly, Lawrence didn’t realize that she was playing Petty until well into shooting. The two talked to MovieWeb about the film:

For Blair, the part of Sarah is unlike anything she has played before. She is almost unrecognizable when she takes on the character. Blair said that she worked very closely with Petty to make sure she got the role right. I’ll say.

The performance has been called Oscar-worthy. Here’s Blair’s take on The Poker House, also from MovieWeb.

The Poker House is a difficult and disturbing movie, to be sure. But Petty hopes that the ultimate message is one of redemption. “Forgive people that are really doing the best that they can. You don’t know whatsomeone’s going through. You don’t know where they’ve been. You don’t know what happens when they go home. Treat everybody the way you would like to be treated and be thankful just to be alive. Don’t be afraid and don’t let the past affect your present.”

That’s a strong message — and probably one that only a woman director like Petty could make. I’m looking forward to the chance to see it.

How about you? Will you take a chance on The Poker House?