Fast Eddie Felson teaches a cocky but immensely talented protégé the ropes of pool hustling, which in turn inspires him to make an unlikely comeback.Fast Eddie Felson teaches a cocky but immensely talented protégé the ropes of pool hustling, which in turn inspires him to make an unlikely comeback.Fast Eddie Felson teaches a cocky but immensely talented protégé the ropes of pool hustling, which in turn inspires him to make an unlikely comeback.
Either you've seen "The Hustler" or you haven't
There are two possible reviews that could be written about this film; two kinds, that is. One kind comes from somebody who's never seen "The Hustler" (1961), who's main character, Fast Eddie Felson, played by Paul Newman, is here reprised and replayed by the same actor, after 25 years has gone by, in a new script. I'm curious to read a review of this kind. I've seen "The Hustler" and rank it very high on my list of great films. So I can only write a review of this other kind. If you know the story from "Hustler" (and love it), how can you not be interested in what happens to Fast Eddie later in life? I was immediately aware of the extension of ideas (money, excellence, honor, pride, and deceit) from "The Hustler" and curious to see where Scorsese would take them. I think he's true to the time period: the clothing (and Vince's hair!), the music (very 80's), and the shift of values (as compared to 60s; e.g. cocaine replacing alcohol). Fast Eddie is also true to his age (and former excellence as a hustler). It feels like he's inherited a bit of Bert (from "The Hustler), a festering bitterness and pride, which reemerges when he meets Vince. I actually liked Tom Cruise as the innocent Vince and thought he played him perfectly. I winced to see him lose that innocence, which is probably what the film means to do. Mastroantonio is also pretty fabulous and yet no where near as cognizant and complex as Piper Laurie's character in "The Hustler." In that respect, this film is not as "cool" as "The Hustler." To credit Scorsese, he avoids trying to make a film as cool or similar in look to the original. Also, this movie does not attempt to gloss over Fast Eddie's faults (indeed it focuses on them intensely), and it doesn't mean to have him come to some redemption (although he does return to some of his former glory as a pool player). For me, my interest in the development of the story hinges upon my knowledge of what happened in "The Hustler." There was no way I could separate this fact from my judgement of the movie. I was disappointed only in so far that I wasn't watching "The Hustler" instead; and that's unfair to this movie. So, I don't know how this movie stands on its own. Try to imagine a movie about Rick, reprised by Bogart, from "Casablanca" 25 years later, called "The Taste of Defeat" when he's living in Paris, bloated from drink and lamenting the loss of swing jazz and, alas, his only love,Ilsa, etc etc.
- Apr 9, 2005
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