Onto one of the leftovers from last week and I finished watching the new English film Hustle starring Adam Sandler and streaming on Netflix. It was only last week that I had happened to watch Uncut Gems starring Adam Sandler again which was a sports film too in a weird manner. Incidentally that film too featured basketball as the featured sports. The only difference being that Hustle seemed like a slightly more typical sports drama as compared to Uncut Gems which was more into betting in the crime genre. Now that I have finished watching Hustle, here are my two cents on it.
Story & Screenplay
Hustle follows the story of a basketball scout who discovers a street ball player in Spain and he plans to get him to play NBA in the States. The story ticks all the tropes of a typical sports drama. The one distinct difference here was that the audience watch the drama unfold through the gaze of the scout and NOT the player. So you are introduced to the personal issues in the life of the protagonist in a world which is quite well setup. I liked how the writers made an effort to create a world around without diving right away into the underdog story. To give you a perspective, in the first 45 odd minutes we still aren’t introduced to the “main” underdog. There are many characters which come and go but the street ball player is introduced way later in the screenplay.
The screenplay at a shade under 2 hours is just the right length here. There are proceedings which are interesting and nicely built up in the first half but slightly cliched in the second half where the drama gets a little more generic. But the writers have ensured that you are thoroughly entertained and well invested in the drama. The obstacles which are introduced are definitely interesting although you know where the drama is headed. In other words, the drama might be predictable but it is surely entertaining. This ends up in a final act which truly sums up the bond between the protagonist and his prodigy. Overall, a well written screenplay with several heartwarming moments.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and devoid of any inspirational speeches which are privy in a sports drama. This was a refreshing approach indeed. The BGM is pretty good but its subtle approach ensures that you don’t really get goosebumps. The cinematography is the unsung hero here. There are no jump edits and the long shots ensure that you are invested in the sport element too. So you do get to witness high level of quality action without any breaks during the basketball matches and drills. Director Jeremiah Zagar has done a phenomenal job here in approaching this sports underdog story in a refreshing manner.
The performances are excellent here. Ben Foster as Vince has his moments to shine. Kenny Smith as Leon is endearing. Queen Latifah as Teresa has a warm presence onscreen. Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz has a towering presence(literally) and does a brilliant job. But the life of the movie is Adam Sandler who shines as Stanley. The amount of emotions which he manages to bring to the table is surreal in a role that wasn’t exactly a comedic one. This required a solid performance and he surely managed to add a lot of depth to his character.
Hustle is a refreshing underdog story which is well worth your time. Available on Netflix.