Hustle & Flow
- Craig Brewer
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Monday, November 28, 2005
DJay (Terrence Howard) is a Memphis pimp who lives with four of the girls that work for him: Nola (Taryn Manning), Shug (Taraji P. Henson), Lexus (Paula Jai Parker) and Yevette (Elise Neal). Their existence is somewhat bleak and business is not that good. Then DJay stumbles upon an old friend, Key (Anthony Anderson), who has since become a music producer, and convinces him that he’s got the talent to become a successful rapper. Key enlists the help of a musician from his church, Shelby (DJ Qualls), and from then on the adventure begins for all of them.
Hustle & Flow is a small inspirational movie about a guy following his dreams whiles everybody else think he’s crazy. There have been a lot of movies with similar paths, yet for some reason Hustle & Flow always feels unique. Why is that? I wondered that myself, and the answer I came up with is that this movie takes place in a far darker world than we’re used to see in the genre (or perhaps here it isn’t sugar-coated or glamorized, but instead we’re shown the harsh realities), and also because there’s a clear distinction in the way DJay goes through life: he’s just not sympathetic.
This last bit of information came as a shock to me while watching the movie, yet it felt utterly refreshing. DJay is not an angel, he’s not perfect, he’s not the needy guy you have to root for. He’s a pimp living in the low suburbs of Memphis. You can tell he’s had a rough life, and he’s no going to stand any bullshit. He can be nice one minute, and loathsome the next. He knows what he wants, and he realizes that his life never really turned out the way he wanted. So when a window opens, he jumps at the opportunity. He’s desperate, he needs to breath, and he’s going to have to fight because the road ain’t gonna be any easy.
The movie is not just about following a dream, but about a guy having a mid-life crisis, and the way that affects the people that surround him. He has a different relation with each of the girls, all of which are special in their own way. But I especially liked the one with Shug and how it ultimately evolves... truly heart-breaking. There’s also a scene near the end where DJay has to face an old acquaintance who became a famous rapper (Ludacris) and the way he handles himself and the way the scene plays... great character work there.
This has really been the year of Terrence Howard. I had never heard of the guy before yet he’s been in countless movies. This year he had Hustle & Flow and Crash, as well as strong supporting roles in Get Rich or Die Tryin' and Four Brothers. And I’m glad things are going well for him. His performance in the movie in question is a knockout. He gives DJay his soul and hits it out of the park. Excellent support is given by Anthony Anderson, Ludacris, DJ Qualls, Taryn Manning and especially Taraji P. Henson.
Kudos to director Craig Bewer for putting such a strong and difficult movie together.
Oh, and I liked those DJay songs as well!
“Just because you got the bacon, lettuce and tomato don’t mean I’m gonna give you my toast.”
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Other reviews of Hustle & Flow (2005): Groucho