Preview by: Jack Foley
A FILM about a pimp suffering from a midlife crisis has picked
up the Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the
world's leading showcase for independent film.
Hustle & Flow is written and directed by Craig Brewer and
is said to feature a mesmerising lead performance from Terrence
It has already been acquired by Paramount Pictures and MTV Films
for $9 million (4.8 million pounds), making it one of the biggest
winners of the 2005 event.
Howard stars as Djay, the pimp suffering the crisis, who yearns
to become a respected rapper.
After becoming inspired by a gospel song, however, he sets his
dream in motion, recruiting his own motley crew and building a
studio in his home.
But although he manages to get his rap onto a tape, Djay quickly
discovers that there are many barriers to fame and fortune - and
achieving it is harder than he could have imagined.
The film emerged as a Sundance favourite off the back of strong
Geoffrey Gilmore, writing on the film festival website, described
Brewer's film as 'a revelation and a delight', that is 'energized
by an enormously charismatic central character and a performance
by Terrence Howard which is quite simply a breakout'.
Howard has previously appeared in movies as diverse as Ray,
Biker Boyz, Big Momma's House
and Hart's War, where he has regularly
shone in supporting roles.
His winning performance in Hustle & Flow, however, could
put him firmly on the route to leading man status.
To conclude with Gilmore's summary of the film: "Hustle
& Flow is a masterful reframing of the world that creates
hip-hop and a succinct and humanizing portrait of the wellspring
of contemporary music."
Expect it to be among the most popular independent films of the
year when it secures mainstream release dates on both sides of
Critics in America backed up the film's success at Sundance by
proclaiming it to be a masterpiece,
The Dallas Morning News leads the way by declaring
it to be 'a sort of Rocky for ambitious street hustlers, Hustle
& Flow traffics in the risky business of making prostitution
seem not quite as bad as the hip-hop world, and it conjures a
sticky mix of urban grit and Hollywood schmaltz'.
While the Washington Post wrote that it's 'a
surprisingly charming story that - in certain sections - almost
crystallizes into the sweetness of a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland
And the Los Angeles Times felt that 'Hustle
& Flow unfolds in the satisfying fashion of classic Hollywood
movies that strike a balance between grit and heart, capturing
the hard edge of poverty and lack of opportunity but also offering
a ray of hope for a better life'.
Newsday felt that its star 'Howard's been knocking
on stardom's door for some time now, and Hustle & Flow should
seal the deal'.
While USA Today wrote that 'Howard takes a character
that might have been a caricature and makes him real - sometimes
icy, sometimes fiery, sometimes slick, sometimes passionate'.
Also positive was Variety, which wrote that
it 'exhibits an undeniable confidence that permeates its every
And the San Francisco Chronicle, which opined:
"So much love went into Hustle & Flow that it almost
glows with it."
Entertainment Weekly was also a fan, stating
that 'we're drawn to the exotic inside portrait of a flyweight
urban hustler who knows how to cast a spell'.
As was the Chicago Sun-Times, which concluded
that 'Terrence Howard modulates Djay with great love and consideration
for the character. He never cheapens him, or condescends. He builds
But the final word in this overview goes to Hollywood
Reporter, which concluded: "Screenwriter-director
Brewer transcends his generic story, laying out his beat from
each character's heart. We come to know their inner fears and
demons, including those of some particularly well-drawn supporting