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Hustle and Flow

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Jan
Hustle and Flow
from Film Forum, 07/28/05

Acclaimed director John Singleton lent considerable funding and influence as a producer to Craig Brewer's new film, Hustle and Flow. The story follows a South Memphis pimp named DJay, played by up-and-coming actor Terrence Howard (Ray, Crash), who is dissatisfied with his life and the troubles of the women he "manages." So he tries to start up a more constructive path by recording a record in the style known as "crunk." As a result, his life and the lives of those around him are changed.

The movie may not sound like your typical crowd-pleaser. But Hustle and Flow won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. And while its R-rated material will certainly keep a lot of Christian viewers away, some Christian film critics are finding plenty here to admire.

J. Robert Parks (Looking Closer) raves about the film's cast and style. "DJay is an obviously flawed man, but we see and appreciate his hopes and humanity despite his profession. We also come to care for [the prostitutes]. They're not women who've thrown their lives away; rather, they're struggling to find some kind of meaning in the midst of their difficult circumstances. Which means that we can't ignore them like we usually do the downtrodden we pass each day. It also means that the moments of prostitution become harder and harder to take."

Adam R. Holz (Plugged In) says, "Hustle & Flow pulls no punches as it tells a gritty tale of redemption involving complex characters trying to make the most of their impoverished lives." He adds that, while the "avalanche" of R-rated content makes it rough viewing, he was surprised by the filmmakers' restraint in their portrayal of prostitution. "Though there's no shortage of sexual content, it didn't glamorize the world's oldest profession in the way that scores of Hollywood films in the past have done. … The movie manages to tell a story in this context without communicating that such a lifestyle is good or acceptable. It's clear that prostitution has taken a terrible toll on these women."

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says, "Despite its seamy milieu and cliché-tinged script (hood trying to go straight, hooker with a heart of gold), the story is engaging. Delivering a strong performance, Howard is definitely a star on the rise."

Mainstream critics herald it as one of the year's best so far.