The Hustler (1961)


Link: The Hustler

Summary: Small time pool hustler Eddie wants to become a major-league pool hustler, and to prove himself he sets out to defeat Minnesota Fats, the current reigning champion. After being defeated, poor Eddie must do some soul searching, figuring out what his passion really means to him before trying once more.

Thoughts: The film is considered a classic, but perhaps seemed more riveting fifty years ago. Today it feels more like a cliche of better films that came after it, as convoluted as that may seem. I found the pacing way too slow, the characters a bit flat, and some plot points rather a bit forced. The themes, dealing with talent and passion vs character and personal sacrifice, are handled with more beauty, depth, and intrigue in films like RockyAmadeus, or even the more recent Whiplash. Still, it’s a decent film, but I think its weaknesses only lend a shovel to the more modern films slowly digging its grave in the annals of film history. But, hey, it got a blu-ray release, so its thematic strengths will ensure that one foot will dance outside the grave for some time yet.