Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
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
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.
Related stories: Read
our interview with Terrence Howard
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