From director Curtis Hanson (“L.A. Confidential,” “Wonder Boys,” “8 Mile”) comes a story of human relationships set in the high-stakes world of Las Vegas. Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore) is a young singer from Bakersfield with more heart than talent. Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) is a poker player whose emotions at the table often undermine his exceptional skill, especially when he is heads up with his father, poker legend L.C. Cheever (Robert Duvall). The one aptitude Billie and Huck seem to share is a knack for reading people — the difference is what they do with that gift. While Huck’s instincts enable him to take advantage of his opponents at the poker table and expertly avoid both emotional connections and long-term commitments in his personal life, Billie uses her intuition to see the emotional truth of those around her and sympathize with their pain. When these two meet, the real game begins. If Huck is going to win Billie’s heart, he must learn to play cards the way he has been living life and live his life the way he has been playing cards.
Since a good many scenes in this film involve playing poker, it would have been nice had I known more about this particular card game. However, I know enough to know that it is an addiction with some people and this is one of the plot scenarios involving the character of Huck Cheever (Eric Bana). He doesn’t know when to stop, even when it comes to stealing money from his girlfriend, Billie, played by Drew Barrymore. Drew Barrymore was, for me, the most interesting character to watch in this film because of her grit in standing up to Huck when he goes astray, which happens more than once in the movie. She also is a likable actress who plays a charming, likable character. Robert Duvall is interesting to watch as Huck’s father, a man who has made some mistakes that Huck can’t seem to forget.
The film would be slow moving for those who don’t wish to watch very many card scenes. Unfortunately, it is not approved by Dove due to a sexual relationship between two unmarried characters, as well as an utterance of Biblical profanity, which is something Dove never approves.