The Hustler is a 1961 drama film directed by Robert Rossen and starring Paul Newman, Jackie Gleeson and Piper Laurie. It is a lauded, but to me a very overrated movie.
It is about a professional pool hustler and it follows his obsession with the sport, his turbulent relationship with a woman and the consequences of the life he leads. Now, I definitely do agree that it is an important movie with a relevant and socially conscious subject matter. However, the execution of said subject matter is pretty mediocre. It is, simply put, a boring movie. Incredibly, frustratingly dull and awfully slow-paced. It is lifeless, lacks energy and is mostly a chore to sit through. That is the biggest problem of The Hustler and it unfortunately stays as a problem throughout its whole running time which is also way overlong.
Eddie is a typical protagonist of the time, but he is well realized and pretty well developed. And a lot of the highlight dramatic scenes are with him. Fats is an okay character, but the rest are quite forgettable with the exception of Sarah who is grounded in reality and likable.
The acting is without a doubt the film’s strongest point. Paul Newman is of course the standout and he deserved his Oscar nomination, but he did not get the award deservedly. Piper Laurie is also stupendous and she did such a great job in the most sympathetic role. Jackie Gleason is also good, but the rest are forgettable.
It is a well filmed and well directed movie. The tone is too depressing and it is at times overly dramatic, but most of the dramatic sequences do work. It is also important to watch and is definitely a professional, well acted film. It is grounded in reality as well with such a realistic approach to its storytelling and character depictions. The dialogue is also solid, but it is just so predictable, so overlong and so incredibly tedious that it can put you to sleep. It is an awfully paced, sluggish movie.
As for its Academy Award nominations, it did not deserve the nine it got. The acting nominations are deserved, but the rest are not. And this is once again a proof of how weak a year 1961 is when even most of its biggest films aren’t that good in reality. Such an uninspired year for films.
The Hustler is well acted, well directed and it has an important subject matter, but it is just so incredibly boring with a lack of energy in its execution, awfully sluggish pace and overlong running time. It is realistic and relevant, but still a chore to sit through.