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Hustle & Flow - Review

Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary By Writer Director Craig Brewer; Behind The Hustle; By Any Means Necessary; Creatin’ Crunk; Memphis Hometown Premiere; 6 Promo Spots.

DJAY (Terrence Howard) is a pimp going through a midlife crisis who dreams of making it as a hip-hop singer.

His struggle to make that break forms the basis of Hustle and Flow, a tough but sensitive urban tale that has already been embraced by audiences on the festival circuit.

Director Craig Brewer’s movie may walk in familiar circles (8 Mile, Rocky) but thanks to a scintillating lead performance from Howard and a frequently uneasy mix of hard-hitting social drama, hip-hop politics and edgy humour it deserves to become a number one hit all on its own.

Howard’s Djay is a difficult character to be around, let alone like all of the time. Viewers may be able to sympathise with his plight (or lack of opportunity) but some of his methods occasionally seem harsh.

He may be extolling the virtues of holding onto dreams one minute but then giving his whores out cheap the next.

In Howard’s expert hands, he remains a magnetic presence, struggling as much to cope with his own demons and insecurities as he is with trying to make a living on the unforgiving streets of Memphis.

Surrounding him is a similarly first-rate cast, all of whom contribute to the overall feel of the movie in some way.

Anthony Anderson shines as Djay’s former school buddy turned sound engineer who dreams of using his skills to cut a hit record, while both Taryn Manning and Taraji P. Henson are terrific as a loyal hooker and pregnant girlfriend respectively.

All add to the authenticity of the piece which seldom plays to stereotypical situations or characters.

The hip-hop (or crunk) world portrayed is both authentic and eye-opening, while the desperation contained within Djay’s attempts to break free from his wayward life is plain for all to see.

It is credit to both Brewer and Howard that the movie hits home as convincingly as it does, particularly as they had to fight hard to get it made (and even then needed the support of Four Brothers director, John Singleton).

Their reward was audience acclaim and prizes at Sundance, followed by a lucrative sale to a major film company.

Your reward for seeing it is a fascinating insight into the real hip-hop world, enhanced by a terrific soundtrack and driven by a blistering lead performance from one of the actors of the year.