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Phil Gaines is a bitter, cynical cop who investigates the case of a dead stripper/porno actress found on the beach. Gaines is experiencing a troubled relationship with a hooker, and things don't get any better when the dead girl's father launches his own investigation.Written by
Kristian Krokfoss <email@example.com>
Burt Reynolds plays Phil Gaines, a middle-aged California cop plagued by a midlife crisis. His wife is seeing someone else, and he's in love with Nicole (lovely Catherine Deneuve), a prostitute. His job as cop entails endless frustrations not only with criminals but also with victim relatives, two of whom are Marty Hollinger (Ben Johnson) and Marty's wife Paula (Eileen Brennan), whose daughter was found dead on the beach. And the case is Phil's to investigate.
Some viewers will object to the film's admittedly slow pace. And the film does have a problem, but I don't think it's the pace. I think the problem here is that the script doesn't give us enough reason to care about Phil Gaines and his life as a cop. That he dates a prostitute does not help. There's also insufficient back-story about him. Except for his love life, we really don't get to know him very well, certainly not well enough to foreshadow the film's implausible double climax.
Perhaps the script's biggest flaw, however, is its lack of focus. Too much screen time is given to the Marty Hollinger character and his silly efforts to solve the case of his daughter's death, on his own. Whose story is this: Phil Gaines' or Marty Hollinger's?
But "Hustle" is not a bad movie, really it isn't. The casting and acting are fine. I thought Eileen Brennan especially gave a memorable performance. The film's production design is good. And color cinematography is terrific. I really liked those outdoor scenes on the deck where Phil and Nicole chat about life and love, with "Yesterday When I Was Young" playing in the background. Such scenes convey a melancholy, nostalgic mood, consistent with Phil's midlife crisis.
Although the screenplay is flawed, "Hustle" is still worth watching at least once, for the underlying character study of a cop in midlife crisis, for the fine acting, and for the film's excellent cinematography and production values.
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