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An ageing gambler takes a young hand under his wing in this low-key noir from debutant Paul Thomas Anderson
A nifty and nimble neo-noir from writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson, made before the excesses of subsequent work. Philip Baker Hall and John C Reilly (both Anderson regulars) play a pair of canny operators in Reno, with the former exerting a paternal hold over the latter, having taught him the rules of casino life. As with later Anderson, the plot is secondary and takes shape gradually; mostly the film relies on atmosphere, character and the performances that contribute to both.
A near-classic in a minor key, and a must-see for fans of later work like The Master and There Will Be Blood who may not yet have experienced the delights of Paul Thomas Anderson's vision operating on a less epic scale.
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