Hustle - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Hustle Reviews

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August 19, 2016
Though I can imagine that designing an advertising campaign for a movie as dreary as Robert Aldrich's "Hustle" was a difficult thing to pull off during post-production, I can only wonder why the creator behind its movie poster and its following stabs at publicity decided that the simplistic tagline of "They're Hot" wouldn't be misleading. Since headliners Burt Reynolds and Catherine Deneuve are undoubtedly very, very hot - ethereally so, in fact - I'm sure that curious audience members intrigued by its sexy promotions felt a little duped when they showed up at their local theater and came out with an L.A. noir even more depressing than Roman Polanski's "Chinatown."
But while I was expecting "Basic Instinct 1975" - really just a provocative whodunit with high libidos, high style, and high suspense at its side- I surprisingly didn't find myself all too disappointed with the downer that moved about in front of me for two hours. Sure I'm not so much in favor of the way its ending avoids happiness for the sake of avoiding happiness, and sure I think its outcries that you can't fight the man no matter how hard you try are trifling rather than disconcerting. But police procedurals that seem more concerned with developing relationships between its characters than they do with expanding a central mystery are rare, and "Hustle," for all its setbacks, is refreshingly intimate and unabashedly grim.
It follows Reynolds's Lt. Phil Gaines as he investigates the fishy death of Gloria Hollinger (Colleen Brennan), a twenty year old whose body is discovered by a group of kids during a dour trip to the beach. Shortly after the coroner examines her corpse is it ruled that her death was a suicide; she purposely took too many pills to leave her sad life - which consisted of stripping, prostituting, and acting in triple X features - behind. But her father, Korean vet Marty (Ben Johnson), won't admit to himself that his pride and joy would do such a thing, and so Gaines and his partner (Paul Winfield) can't help themselves from looking further into the details that surrounded her demise.
But "Hustle's" most rousing aspect is not the solving of its unsolvable mystery. Better yet is its focusing on the relationship between Gaines and his girlfriend Nicole (Deneuve), a French prostitute who takes her work just as seriously as he does his. A side plot of its sort would be throwaway if "Hustle" weren't so harshly naturalistic, but Reynolds and Deneuve seem so enamored with one another that they temporarily convince us that the age old love story starring a cop and a hooker will actually work out in the end.
Considerable amounts of time are spent checking in on the quiet moments they share at Nicole's chic beach bungalow, preferring to spotlight their meet-cute imitating zingy rapport over exploiting framings of their sex life (though some scenes are after a flash of pink). In seeing them interact do we find ourselves caring a great deal about these people, so when the conclusion betrays our hope that everything will ultimately be fine as long as the two find a way out of their respective societal bubbles, we're not persuaded that pessimism is right for a film so pessimistic on an overarching level. We feel cheated, if only because Steven Shagan, who writes, and Aldrich, who directs, seem to assure us that their relationship is a symbol of the looming optimism that awaits them.
Bitter as I am, however, stunning is the way "Hustle" is able to portray an investigation with such holistic realism. Reynolds is believably sapped, Johnson is scarily furious, and Eileen Brennan, as the latter's wife, is the film's secret weapon as a woman who dreamt of seeing the American Dream through but has instead seen her life destroyed by tragedy. And the depiction of the seedy underworld (that eventually proves to be tied to the city's own higher powers and points of corruption) that got the best of Gloria is tenably frightening. But "Hustle," however much good it has embedded in its unsentimental frames, is a joyless experience - I don't believe I could watch it a second time.
½ April 9, 2015
I'd only seen this film once before, probably 25 years ago, and I remember I found it too unseemly for my liking and basically thought it a repellent film. I must have toughen up since then because now I found this film a rougher modern take on film noir and quite liked it this time around. Robert Aldrich directed one of the hardest edged film noirs of all time with "Kiss Me, Deadly," essentially setting the stage for the French New Wave style of filmmaking. With this film he takes those same classic noir elements and brings an even tougher edge to the genre, telling the story of LA police detectives Burt Reynolds and Paul Winfield investigating the death of a stripper/prostitute/drug addict. Her father, the great Ben Johnson, does not take the revelation of his daughter's lifestyle well, taking his anger out on anyone around him. Burt is the star of the film, playing a flawed detective who splits his time between the day to day life of a cop and with his mistress, prostitute girlfriend Catherine Deneuve, but for me the heart of the film revolves around Ben Johnson. Johnson plays a rather unlikable character. He's angry at everyone around him, his daughter, his wife, the detectives trying to solve the murder, but most I suspect he's angry about his lack of parenting that led to his daughter's downward spiral. Johnson is almost always a charming on screen presence, so it's fascinating to see him play such an unpleasant character and that he does it so well, presenting a very complex character who manages to be both sympathetic while also being unpleasant. My only complaint about the film is that the murder plot of the daughter seemed unnecessarily complicated and conspiracy theory-like. When the characters were the driving force of the film, it seems that their story did not need to be wrapped around a rather overly complicated murder plot. I think the same story could have been told with a much simpler and more believable murder plot. Despite that, it's a very compelling film with a very strong cast that includes Eileen Brennan, Eddie Albert, Ernest Borgnine, Catherine Bach, Jack Carter, Fred Willard and Robert Englund appear in small but significant part of the film. I also swear that it was Michael Berryman who plays an albino who get's slapped around by the cops in one scene, but IMDB said that was another actor who only appeared in this film. Interestingly, this was not the only time Burt would face a villainous albino on screen.
½ September 9, 2014
Deeply unsatisfying. Not because it lacks anything in acting, script or direction but because it is such a deeply sad and cynical film.
April 19, 2014
good 70's pic and 'neo-noir'
February 1, 2014
Good hard-edged cop movie, with a jaundiced view--Thoughtfully moody modern noir!!
March 19, 2013
This one really didn't work for me. The murder investigation side of the story was good, but it's continually derailed by the scenes between Reynolds and Deneuve that do little for the film and make the whole thing feel like a vanity project for Reynolds. I like slow ... but this one seemed to just stop.
February 23, 2013
Good noir with Burt Reynolds.
½ October 27, 2012
Decent story that needed a better script. Would have been better if the movie focused on Ben Johnson's character as a father trying to find out how his daughter wound up on a slab at the morgue.
April 28, 2012
An eclectic and depressing 70s Neo-noir. The beautiful Catherine Deneuve is miscast but Burt Reynolds is surprisingly good.
February 22, 2012
A story which has melancholy written all over it..especially when they're depicting the romance between the leads.I liked it overall as the story is quite frank and the actors did a good job
April 15, 2011
Interesting '70's noir from director Robert Aldrich, with Burt Reynolds and Catherine Deneuve
December 31, 2010
Was Bob Aldrich the most misunderstood/under-appreciated filmmaker of his time? Maybe. I was expecting stock-standard 70s cop thriller nonsense from this, and the opening reel led me to think that I was spot on, but no, it turns out it's typically un-typical Aldrich fare. You've got non-committal and detached cops essentially making a monster out of Ben Johnson, a murder victim's father, due to their callous indifference. That's great.

Then, it turns out that the cops' way of repenting for what they've done (only subconsciously, mind you), is to create a massive fiction surrounding another murder. It's a mean jab at the other cop films of the time (and later on as well), and it's refreshing at that. Great ending, too.
½ October 12, 2010
Dark, talky but decent attempt at a 1970-ized film noir. Pessimistic Cop (Reynolds) loves and lives with a Call Girl (Catherine Deneuve!) while investigating the murder/disappearance of a young woman and its' potential conspiracy/cover up. Almost surreal cast (Catherine "Daisy Duke" Bach, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Robert Englund, Dick Miller, Fred Willard, Paul Winfield, etc).
½ August 4, 2010
Bleak and Underated film with neo noir feel and great performances from the whole cast.
Aldrich is an extremly underated director,who managed to survive the collaspse of the studio system and turn out key genre works in the late 60s and 70s .
This is one of his toughest genre films and Reynolds puts in a real grade A performance.
August 4, 2010
Bleak and tough 70s film noir from underated Robert Aldrich.
Reynolds is on pretty good form here as cop who has to deal with lowlifes and politicians who escape justice while ordinary folks are denied that justice.

When a girl turns up dead on a beach in LA the father(An excellent Ben Johnson) wants justice and Reynolds just wants to move onto another case.

Amid all this Reynolds is in love with call girl Catherine Denuve who has connections to the seedier elements of the high rolling class most notably Eddie Albert.

The script by Steve Shagan is a bleak world of the LA we never see and Aldrich adds to that seedy touch.

Leonard Matlin hates this movie and although it has its flaws i think its a film which gets better with age especially considering some of the dreck Reynolds would later churn out.
December 30, 2009
Reflexion sur la culpabilite et la vengeance, mensongerement vendue comme un thriller. Quoi qu'il en soit, un Aldrich rate.
July 17, 2009
Decent 70`s Action/Drama. Reynolds plays a cop who bends, twists and even breaks the rules of his profession.but what do you do when every other psycho gets a few years in a mental ward for killing someone.
as his characters says in the film, "those bastards never die".
March 26, 2009
Aldrich jette les bases du polar dramatique moderne dans ce precieux film meconnu ou Burt Reynolds est en prise avec une enquete sordide, lamine par un vague a l'ame poisseux et tiraille par son amour pour la tres belle C. Deneuve. Ca finira mal.
January 10, 2009
I am a huge fan of 1970s and 1980s cop/detective films ... and this one is a good one - not great - but a good one. I wasn't expecting Burt Reynolds' character to be murdered in the end ... but did enjoy seeing Eddie Albert playing a "baddie" role ... and a young Catherine Bach playing the dead daughter's friend ... Ben Johnson gave an outstanding performance (as did Eileen Brennan) as the parent of the dead girl ... Catherine Deneuve was a sexy lady of the 1970s and the part of the call girl suited her well ... loved Burt's car!
January 4, 2009
Depressing cop film with Burt investigating death of young girl amidst the dark side of LA. Completely bleak and cynical outlook with hostage scene added for no apparant reason. There are no winners in this film.
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