At the instigation of a grieving father, a Los Angeles cop investigates the suspicious circumstances of a girl's apparent suicide.At the instigation of a grieving father, a Los Angeles cop investigates the suspicious circumstances of a girl's apparent suicide.At the instigation of a grieving father, a Los Angeles cop investigates the suspicious circumstances of a girl's apparent suicide.
Stylistically it is very low-key with no notable flourishes or tricksiness. It boasts little in the way of 'action'. A hostage situation sequence seems to have been added purely to provide something in that line for fidgety Burt fans. It is profoundly cynical and resolutely (almost excessively) downbeat. But it is also very thoughtful, atmospheric, well acted and absorbing. A kind of modern dress companion piece to 'Chinatown'. And whilst not quite achieving the force and subtlety of that film, it remains highly creditable.
Reynolds is effective as the world weary cop in love with a French prostitute, a cipher whom Deneuve turns into a real person. Her character represents some sort of unattainable, glamorous continental dream to the policeman. This idea is explored and reinforced by numerous references and allusions to European cinema, culture and locale.
Burt looks uncannily like a youthful Brando and brings great restraint to a role which could have been horribly over-played. Ben Johnson, Eileen Brennan and Paul Winfield also all give good performances as beaten, screwed-up people. The outstanding turn, though, comes from Edward Albert as Leo Sellers, a wealthy and powerful businessman with dubious tastes and connections. This character is key to Steve Shagan's screenplay in the same way that John Huston's Noah Cross was to Robert Towne's 'Chinatown'. A persona symbolic of corruption and degeneracy, but also integral to the prosperity of the society he is such a part of. Sellers is a refined, intelligent man with a keen eye for people's weak spots and fingers deft enough to push all of their buttons at once. Mr. Albert brings him to life with a palpable evil.
'Hustle' is a film that I like to reacquaint myself with from time to time. Whilst Shagan's script is occasionally a tad overblown and too fruity for its own good, there are some great lines and moments. For me, it's noirish exploration of thwarted romanticism is pretty much irresistible.
A minor classic.
- Jul 15, 2005